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The Strong and Silent Vegetable

May 28, 2020

If your household is practicing social distancing as a precaution against COVID-19, you are probably limiting errands and making fewer trips to the grocery store. I am right there with you, and while I do have an abundantly (over)filled pantry, freezer, and storage of home-canned goods, replenishing perishables, such as dairy and produce, requires at least bi-weekly stock ups.

The problem with grocery shopping only every two weeks, however, IS the perishables. When I place my grocery order, I do so with an eye on trying to keep a mix of fresh vegetables that will need to be used immediately, and those that are a bit more shelf stable and can hang out in the fridge for awhile without ill effects.

Cabbage is one of those strong, silent vegetables. Its lifespan is amazingly long, and its versatility is outstanding. I find myself adding a head to almost every grocery list these days.

We love a myriad of versions of crunchy coleslaw with everything from seafood tacos to pulled pork sandwiches. Chopped cabbage is cooked down in brothy beef vegetable soups and bowls of ramen (soft cooked egg, not optional). Steamed and buttered cabbage is a simple side that Hubs has adored since childhood, and Balsamic Braised Cabbage pairs so well with roasted sausages and pierogis, pork roast or roast chicken, or even grilled brats. Cabbage is absolutely a star of COVID-19 grocery pick up.


Cabbage lasts awhile in the refrigerator and pairs well with a variety of dishes.

Balsamic Braised Cabbage

(adapted from NY Times Food)


1 large red cabbage, quartered, cored and shredded

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, thinly sliced

2 tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I use Granny Smith.)

approximately 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

kosher salt

freshly ground pepper to taste


Cover the shredded cabbage with cold water while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, lidded skillet, and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until just about tender. Add 2 tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar and the apples and cook, stirring, until all have softened.

Drain the cabbage and add to the pot. Toss to coat thoroughly. Stir in the allspice, another 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, and salt to taste. Toss together. Cover the pot, and cook over low heat for one hour, stirring from time to time. Add freshly ground pepper, taste and adjust salt, and add another tablespoon or two of balsamic vinegar as desired.

This keeps well for up to five days, and flavor may actually be better when reheated. (Serves 6-8)

Fran Hill has been blogging about food at On My Plate since October of 2006. She, her husband and their three dogs ranch near Colome.


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