Cabbage comes in a wide array of forms. Some are shaped like an ice cream cone. They’re bulbous and circular at the base and work toward a definitive point at the top. This variety is called a “cone head cabbage.”
There is another variety that reaches the size of a medium pumpkin, although it’s much wider than it is tall. This is the “drumhead cabbage.”
I’ve seen miniature purple cabbage, fully mature, which is about the size of a baseball, and “savoy” cabbage with beautiful crinkly leaves.
While many are likely not all that excited about the world of cabbages, I always appreciate new discoveries.
This week I worked with one of my favorite seasonal varieties called Napa cabbage.
Also commonly referred to as “Chinese” cabbage, this variety is more reminiscent of a giant head of lettuce than a cabbage. Its flavor profile is somewhere between that of bok choy, romaine lettuce and standard green cabbage.
A member of the brassica vegetable family, sharing the likes of cauliflower and broccoli, it performs best in the fields from early winter into the spring months, so it is just starting to take its form as the weather cools.
This week I prepared a Chinese chicken salad using an array of farmers market ingredients. I used fresh ginger root from Her Family Farms, a nice addition for the marinade and salad dressing.
Farmers Market Chinese Chicken Salad
2 medium boneless skinless chicken breast (marinated in salad dressing below), grilled and diced
6 cups Chinese cabbage, chopped
2 medium carrots, grated
1 cup sliced sugar snap peas
2 green onions
1 medium sweet red pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup cashew nuts or sliced or slivered almonds
Salad Dressing and Marinade
2 inch piece ginger root, if bark present remove, then grated
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup rice vinegar (I use lightly seasoned)
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
Juice from 2 limes
Whisk all salad dressing ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to use. Whisk shake well each time before using.
Marinate your chicken breast in about a third-cup of your dressing and refrigerate for about 2 hours. Then grill until cooked through.
In a large salad bowl, add remaining ingredients and toss well. Then toss in a few tablespoons of dressing and taste. Adjust as needed. Top with grilled chicken and drizzle chicken with a little extra dressing if desired.
Yield: Serves 4.