Roasted and Raw Cabbage in a Salad? Oh, Yeah. And It’s a Beauty.
Now, this is a noteworthy salad. I ran into a recipe from Ixta Belfrage for a salad in which Napa cabbage was used and part of it was roasted. While I loved the idea, I went in a completely different direction for my own salad by using purple cabbage and very different flavorings.
After slicing the head of cabbage into quarters, I separated the leaves from half, rubbed them with a small amount of oil and salt and roasted them for only 10 minutes at high heat. This gave me some charred and toasted edges but kept the thicker centers crisp tender. And the color was beautiful after the brief roasting time.
I used some orange juice in the dressing, which I cooked down into a syrup along with soy sauce, rice vinegar, maple syrup and a dried habanero chili. The habanero imparts some heat, but it also has a fruitiness in its flavor that I like a lot. The heat can be controlled by either removing the whole chili after it’s cooked or you can squeeze the chili with a spoon and release its seeds into the dressing. I opted to not release the seeds in this, as I didn’t want it to be overly hot. Deciding to go full tilt with the orange flavor, I added fresh oranges to the salad. Many times I will simply cut the oranges into thick slices for a salad, but I thought that supremes (segments of oranges cut from the membranes) would be nicer in this one.
After the syrup cooled, I whisked in seasonings, sesame oil and neutral oil. This was one very tasty dressing. I knew it needed to be strong in order to not be overpowered by the sliced cabbage and scallions. A couple tablespoons of nigella seeds* enhanced the overall flavor and texture of the salad. I reinforced the sesame flavor by topping it all with toasted sesame seeds. And then I added crispy fried shallots* for good measure.
When I served it, I made sure everyone had a mix of the raw salad and the roasted cabbage leaves. The sweet and musky roasted leaves are simply fantastic with the sharp and crunchy salad. I thought this was going to work well and I wasn’t at all let down.
Plus, it looks gorgeous. Pretty food is important to me. I’m a firm believer in the old adage that says we eat with our eyes first. If it looks good, the pleasure of eating it is enhanced. This one is a keeper on all fronts.