The cabbage didn’t appear with any frequency on the British table until the tumultuous reign of Henry VIII, when its cultivation started to be taken seriously by frugal-minded cottagers. Dozens of varieties were cultivated by these industrious cottagers, including the prodigious cow cabbage, which was said to reappear year after year without human interference, producing monstrous heads large enough to satisfy voracious bovine stomachs. A Norman variety more tasty to the human palate was frequently reported to reach heights of six or seven feet, and the hearty Strasburg cabbage weighed in at more than twenty-five pounds.
Needless to say, the cabbage was seen as an economical and tasty addition to the table–as well as an interesting and nutritious one. Belonging to the family Brassicaceae, the cabbage derives from the wild mustard plant and comes in a variety of colors — purple, green and red. It is an excellent source of vitamin C and contains the rare amino acid glutamine.
This month’s Austerity Kitchen Challenge presents a dish–lazy pierogi–that features cabbage in its fermented form — as sauerkraut, that is. Lazy pierogi is a delightful and inexpensive mix of mushrooms, onions, sauerkraut and pasta. Serve it with a green salad and a nice table wine.
1 package spiral pasta
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
1 8-ounce package mushrooms
2 cups sauerkraut
smoked paprika (optional)
Boil the pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside. Chop and fry in the olive oil the onions and mushrooms. Add pepper, garlic powder and smoked paprika to taste. Add the sauerkraut and stir until thoroughly mixed in. Add pasta and toss together. Serve immediately.