Jazzy Cabbage

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Bah-a-dibby-da”¦”   When you open your TakeHome box this week out comes: "Oh, skeep-beep de bop-bop beep”¦"

Ella Fitzgerald will emerge scatting the praises to the lovely Red Savoy cabbage from Willow Creek in Humboldt County, CA.

  • Savoy, the home of sweet romance,
    Savoy, it wins you with a glance,
    Savoy, gives happy feet a chance, to dance.


With Lady Ella and Oscar Peterson on the piano, no other cabbage gets this kind of treatment. That's because this is the rare and special Red Savoy Cabbage. It is a hard-headed variety originally from the French/Italian alpine province Savoie.  Chou de Savoie was adopted by England and first grown there in 1597. The current burgundy-tinted Red Savoy is a noteworthy breed, grown only by a few farms. Crinkled and wrinkled, it is the mildest of cabbages and highest in beta-carotene.

Cabbage is so versatile in the kitchen.   Hold a head in your hands and contemplate - simmered, sautéed, rolled, stuffed, or shredded?   It has fed much of Europe and Asia for centuries, so no wonder there are so many ways to prepare it.   All cabbages are members of theCruciferae family of vegetables, which includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi, kale, collards, and the Asian leaf vegetables such as bok choy.   Cabbage is a fast-growing fall and winter crop, is nutrient rich, and has many medicinal properties to boot. Researchers have learned that foods in the cabbage family inhibit the growth of breast, stomach, and colon cancer due to phytochemicals called indoles. Other research has shown that cabbage juice is effective for curing peptic ulcers. With its overlapping layers, cabbage may hold more curative secrets.

It is wise not to overcook cabbage. Overcooking releases sulfur odors and reduces cabbage’s nutritional value.   Celery, caraway seeds, apples and/or pears are fine compliments in cabbage recipes. For example chou rouge a la Franc-Comtoise, a traditional dish from Burgundy, includes baked cabbage, pears and spices, and is a nice way to eat with the season. To use the leaves for stuffing, hit the spine of each leaf with the flat edge of a heavy knife and slip the whole leaf in salted, simmering water. Cook for a few minutes till tender. Dry leaves off on a towel and use to roll up rice or leftovers.

The Red Savoy cabbage is a great vegetable staple. Just as virtuoso Ella Fitzgerald crafted gems from the classic jazz standards, you can craft fantastic dishes with the old standby cabbage. Check out this week’s recipes for a wonderful healthy sauté, or try a little improv.

- Heidi Lewis


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