Bohemian Chic

Cabbage is the red-headed step child of the vegetable family. There is no god or goddess who is really associated with cabbage. The closest I could find it this information from Roman mythology holds that cabbages sprung from the tears of Lycurgus, King of the Edonians. Emperor Claudius called upon his Senate to vote on whether any dish could surpass corned beef and cabbage. (The Senate voted a resounding nay!)

I’m feeling bad because in all my eagerness to dis valentines day, I missed World Cabbage Day on February 17th – 
World Cabbage Day is a day in which the pleasure and simplicity of the Cabbage 
is celebrated as a humble yet universal foodstuff.

A very short history of cabbage from North China probably is the original home of Chinese cabbage. It is favored for pickling and suitable to go over rice. It is thought that wild cabbage was brought to Europe around 600 B.C. by groups of Celtic wanderers. It was grown in Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations that held it in high regard as a general panacea capable of treating a host of health conditions. 

My mother used to make cabbage rolls. They are a standard Eastern European dish, and I have included the traditional recipe below. Although cabbage has been revered for it’s nutritional and medicinal properties, the stuffing in it is not necessarily that great for you. You can take your liberty with cabbage and be creative about what you put in it. A vegetarian or vegan stuffing with other grains like Quinoa and maybe some eggplant would be great. If you are looking to your inner-gypsy for dinner inspiration, try rabbit (instead of beef) and wild rice.

I think it’s time for a cabbage make-over. A cabbage haute cuisine in needed. Perhaps we could have something like the spanish tapas bars where you go to sample various cabbage dishes. In celebration of it’s Eastern European affiliations, we can make it the new Bohemian chic. We’ll replace that dated olive in your martini with a hip bit of pickled cabbage to float on the top. And of course, cabbage will need a mythology to keep up with the other cool kids of the vegetable world. My candidate of choice for the Goddess of Cabbage – Zephyr.

Cabbage Rolls

Like most members of it’s family, cabbage is not photogenic. I had a difficult time finding a picture of cabbage rolls that didn’t look like it was a shot from a horror movie.

  • 1 large head of cabbage, cored **see note at end of recipe** and leave some in middle to chop
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onions, chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 big carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 lb lean beef, ground, not cooked
  • 1 cup white rice or brown rice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • Tomato juice
  • Sour cream

Saute onions and garlic in oil. Add carrots and 1/2 Cup of chopped cabbage. Saute several minutes. Add about 1/2 Cup of tomato sauce. Take off heat. Add uncooked rice and ground beef (not cooked). Season with salt and pepper. In large saucepan add several cooked cabbage leaves and 2 bay leaves to bottom of pan. Spoon meat mixture on each cabbage leaf. Depending on cabbage leaf size use a small amount or large. Fold up snuggly from bottom and sides and roll up. Place in bottom of saucepan seam side down. Stack on top of one another. Place 1-2 fresh cabbage leaves on top. Cover with 1 Cup of tomato sauce and tomato juice to cover. Cook on low 1- 1/2 hour. Serve with sour cream. This Eastern European cooking recipe makes a large amount and often is eaten throughout several days as the leftovers keep well.
****Take out the core of the cabbage first and then put it in a steamer or large boiling pot of water. After about 5 minutes of steaming separate leaves. Add cabbage back to the pot of boiling water if some cabbage leaves are not easily removed. Remove thick center vein from each leaf.


“May the leaves of your cabbage be free of worms”. ~ Irish Blessing


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