Celebrate St. Patrick’s day by embracing the country’s iconic yet humble piece of produce: the cabbage. There are a million ways to eat the incredibly healthy cruciferous vegetable, and Irish cooks have probably thought of them all. Though toast is trendy now, I bet someone before me has thought to pair sautéed cabbage with bread as in this recipe for Red Cabbage & Cheddar Toasts.
New or not, the combination is a great idea.
While raw cabbage can be a little cold this time of year, there’s also no need to boil sliced cabbage past the point of recognition. I find a happy medium by sautéing, then steaming, a quarter head of red cabbage in a generous measurement of olive oil. In under 10 minutes, the crisp shards soften into a buttery and delicious braise that’s addictive in a way you never dreamed veggies could be.
I’ll be the first to admit it: red cabbage turns crazily purple after being cooked. These are not shy toasts: they’re bold! So don’t be put off by the intense color before you take the first bite of crunchy toast, creamy vegetable, and sharp cheese though, because you’ll be missing out.
You can eat the toasts yourself as a simple vegetarian lunch. Or, come St. Patty’s, why not cut them into bite-sized crostini and serve them as an appetizer? Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Zinfandel is fruity, peppery, and just as richly hued as the cabbage. I love the pair together.
So I’m reconsidering the corn beef and gallons of cheap beer this year, opting instead for a rich wine and a humble snack that nods at the kind of humble, everyday Irish cuisine I could eat all year.
- 2 slices good bread
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- ¼ red cabbage, sliced
- ¼ teaspoon caraway seeds
- 1 to 2 ounces aged white cheddar - get Irish cheddar if you can find it!
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Brush the toasts with some of the measured-out oil. Toast for 5 minutes, until crisp.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy pan with a lid over medium heat.. Add the garlic and caraway and cook until the garlic is fragrant and just barely golden. Add the cabbage and a pinch of salt and cover the pot. Lower the heat to low, then cook, stirring now and then, until the cabbage is sweet and soft, about 7 minutes. If it's sticking to the pan, add a splash of water. Taste again for salt, adding more if needed.
- Pile the cabbage on the toasts. Top with crumbled cheddar, then cut each toast in half if you're serving as an appetizer.
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