Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A House of Compromise: Napa Cabbage Salad

I might as well confess this: my husband is a Republican.  In case you haven't been reading for very long, and didn't notice my political stripes ... well, let's just say I'm not a Republican.  Luckily we agree on the important ideological issues (at least, the ones I think are important), and disagree when it comes to issues of government size and fiscal responsibility.  It works for us.

As you found out in his guest post, my husband is an engineer.  He sees things with a scientific, rational, logical mind.  Me?  I was an English major, a Psychology minor, and got my doctoral degree in the Sociology and Philosophy of Education, heavy on the Philosophy.  I see things through the lens of metaphor, I am more likely to be emotional even when I'm being rational, and I am drawn to ideas about culture.  The difference offers us balance, most of the time, like when I want to cry about laundry detergent.  (Maybe sometime I will tell you that story, but not today.)

My husband is a carnivore.  He would be perfectly happy with a meal of hot dogs and mashed potatoes.  In fact, Thanksgiving at our house falls just short of a world war every year because though I am not exactly a vegetarian, I often eat that way, and I am the lone voice protesting the preponderance of starch and animal protein.  (A meal of sugar and fat, though?  Oh, ho!  Not a problem.)

Unlike most of our differences, which are completely surmountable or even useful, this last difference presents a challenge given that the CSA share is ... well ... full of vegetables.  And not just the flexible jack-of-all-trades vegetables like zucchini and tomatoes, but things like napa cabbage.  And eggplant.  And tomatillos.  I am way too lazy to make stuffed cabbage, and the idea of a whole head of cabbage worth of stuffed cabbage makes me a little weak in the knees.  I have eaten more baba ghanouj this summer than I thought possible, because everyone else who lives here thinks that eggplant is slimy.  And will someone please tell me what people do with tomatillos besides make salsa, or throw them in stew, which I really would prefer not to do when it's ninety degrees out?

I love my CSA.  LOVE, love my CSA.  But this is tricky business.

I remember having long conversations with a former colleague about her split household, and how she managed, as a vegetarian, to cook for herself and her vegetable-hating husband (not that my husband hates vegetables ... he just doesn't love them like I do).  At the time, they seemed like perfectly reasonable solutions: add beans to one half the meal, meat to the other.  But sometimes, like when you have a cabbage to contend with, it works less well.

You can, however, take a deep breath, compromise a little, and present your husband with a rack of ribs to grill as an enticement to eat said cabbage.  Which is exactly what I did.

Napa Cabbage Salad with Red Bell Pepper, Cilantro, Almonds, and Dijon-Ginger Dressing
(Adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen)

1 medium head napa cabbage, chopped (about 5-6 cups chopped cabbage)
1 red bell pepper, very thinly sliced into same-length slices
1/3 c. thinly sliced green onion
1/2 c. chopped cilantro
1/3 c. chopped almonds, toasted (or roasted, salted)

2 T rice vinegar
2 tsp. grated ginger root
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp. sesame oil
1 T. agave nectar or 2 t. honey
salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
3 T. light olive oil

Stir together the rice vinegar, grated ginger, Dijon mustard, sesame oil, agave nectar/honey, salt, and pepper, then whisk in the oil one tablespoon at a time.  Set aside and allow flavors to mingle.

Toss together the chopped napa cabbage, red bell pepper, green onions, and chopped cilantro in a medium-sized salad bowl.  Add desired amount dressing and toss to coat the salad.  Place in salad bowls and top each serving with chopped almonds.  Serve and eat immediately, since the cabbage will begin to wilt in the refrigerator.
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  1. I love your opening line and laughed out loud a bit at it. :)

    Have been enjoying hearing about the CSA and what you do with all the produce you get and am storing it away for next year when we may do the same. However I am a little worried that I will be spending money and getting food that will not end up getting eaten and it won't be hubby's fault as he is the vegetarian in the family, it will be my fault as I grew up on peas and carrots and corn and on a wild day some green beans and have.no.earthly.idea what to do with things such as cabbage or eggplant or tomatillos, heaven help me.

  2. That is funny. You could throw the tomatillos in a cilantro lime tomatillo dressing.

  3. I've only ever made salsa with tomatillos but I have a friend who swears they are delicious raw with just a little lime. It does sound challenging to use up your CSA goodies!

  4. I posted a relish recipe I used tomatillos in today. We also use them on kabob sticks or just eat them raw. :D

    The husband and I are largely aligned politically speaking, but aside from his parents the majority of each of our families are Republican. Which typically isn't an issue, but since there's an election looming every family gathering on each side involves president bashing either blatantly in the open (my parents, because they believe they know better than I do about everything and thus think I'm an idiot) in mutterings here and there. Such awesome times.

  5. I am blessed to be married to a fellow vegetarian, to be sure.

    Eggplant slimey? Sacrilege! We love the stuff. You could perhaps hide it in pasta or on pizza. We often char grill it for pizzas, and preserve some in olive oil for later use.

    I had to look up what tomatillos and napa cabbage. Tomatillo - don't believe I've ever seen one here. But after a bit of web research, I'm thinking maybe you could roast them and use them in a salad? Or I like the skewer idea by one of your other commenters.

    Ahh, cabbage. We call that wong bok here, or plain old chinese cabbage. How about nice refreshing rice paper rolls? I also tend to use mine in won ton soup. Also make a lovely dish with soba noodles, ginger, eggplant, and chinese cabbage.

  6. @Andie: mmm, rice paper rolls. I was thinking moo shu, too. I'm not a big noodles fan. There's also a carb divide in our house. :) And eggplant ... they find it. !!!

    @Audrey: skewers, good idea!

    @MudHutMama: I ate one raw the other day and it was interesting ... reminded me of a ground cherry.

    @N: dressing! Sort of like salsa, but ... not. :)

    @Jenn: trust me ... you figure it out. And if you wanted help, there are plenty of people who would be willing, me included, to help with planning so you can use it all!

  7. I might as well confess than to: my husband is also a Republican.

    How have we not known or discussed this before?! Yet another reason we are kindred spirits...

    When he and I met I was very liberal. Since then I would say we have both become more moderate, but I definitely identity more with the left, than the right politically.

    As for the foodie side of this post, in recent months (and years, but not as much), I have been trying to eat healthier and feed my family healthier foods. My kids mostly go along with my attempts and what I feed them, but my husband at times just wants to eat his meat, potatoes and white bread. Don't get me wrong, I can be a picky eater too and overall my husband is a more adventurous eater than I am, but I am proud of the ways I try to be healthy.

    Someday we may try a CSA, but I am not sure we are ready yet.

  8. Kathy and Justine are married to Republicans?! Consider my world rocked :)

    My dad is a hard-core, Ann Coulter tweeting, asking for Obama's birth certificate, Romney boosting Republican.

    I am not.

    It makes for an interesting dynamic.

    That salad looks delicious, and appears to be the perfect accompaniment to Ribs :P

  9. Don't tell JJiraffe, but I, too, am in a mixed marriage. Different from y'all's, though. I had a series a few years ago about how my sisters and I are a rare strain of New Age Libertarians.

    But! My husband loves veggies. And I like meat. If only we could so easily agree about the role and size of government.

  10. LOL. What about ratatouille? That might be a good way to use the tomatillos and the eggplant. My husband is a picky eater. He's improved over the years, but it is still a struggle.

  11. Oh yes...we are part of a CSA, sort of, and half a head of cabbage went in the trash a few weeks ago. This week we got the largest eggplant I have ever seen (and how is that organic?)...mmm...babaganoush. sounds like an idea.

    I'm saving this recipe for the next head of cabbage to come this way!

    My husband is somewhat apolitical, but we tend to have the same ideals. With his ability to see the other side, and my inability to be flexible it can lead to interesting discussions.

  12. I use tomatillos for green mole! Yum. What is 'Napa' cabbage??

  13. Ditto on what Jjiraffe said. That just rocked my world. LOL!

    If we had all that cabbage we would be making lots of traditional golabki or boiled with potatoes and maybe corned beef. Oh and lots of homemade cold slaw.

    I'm with the rest of your family on eggplant. I find it slimy too.


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