My cooking style, I've come to realize, is free-form. I prefer to let the ingredients, specifically what I already have in the fridge and pantry, direct me. This is where the magic happens. How fun it is to watch a random assortment of items turn into a flavorful dish. These often aren't planned, just things that I whip together.
The remains of our food coop produce result in the most interesting creations. I wasn't quite sure where I was going when I pulled the pointed cabbage out of the fridge. As I studied it, I was reminded of a warm romaine salad we had in New Orleans that left us wowed. As I quartered the cabbage, I realized that I could play off this idea. The cast iron skillet came out (yup, I used the stove despite it being a whopping 92 degrees outside). After a light drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, they were charred on each side. I let them simmer on the stove, covered, while I put the cashew dressing together (my first go at it... and I'm hooked). It couldn't hurt to serve this alongside some grilled meat or fish, but to keep things a bit lighter (who wants to eat heavy food in this heat?), I put together a platter of grilled vegetables and that, along with a bottle of rosé, made for a truly satisfying summer dinner.
Warm Pointed Cabbage Salad with Lemon-Garlic Cashew Dressing
Yield 4 servings
For the dressing
1/2 cup unsalted cashews
Juice of 1/2 lemon juice
1 garlic clove, chopped
10 parsley leaves
1 tsp kosher salt
1. Place the cashews into a mixing bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let sit for thirty minutes.
2. Cut the cabbage into quarters lengthwise so that the leaves remain attached to the core. Rub lightly with olive oil, about a tablespoon's worth.
3. Set a large cast iron skillet (or heat a grill) over high heat. Preheat for a minute or two before placing the cabbage wedges into the pan. Flip over each piece to allow the cabbage to char evenly on each side. Season with salt and cover skillet with a large lid and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for another 8-10 minutes, or until tender. Make sure to use an oven mitt to pick up the pan and lid... it will be very hot.
4. While this is cooking, drain the cashews of the liquid and transfer to a blender, along with the lemon juice, minced garlic, parsley, and salt (alternatively, an immersion blender can be used). Blend until it forms a thick mixture. Slowly pour in water until you've reached your desired consistency (I liked it a little thicker, which included about 1/4 cup water). Taste for seasoning and, if necessary, add a little salt.
5. Transfer cooked cabbage to a serving platter and spoon dressing over each wedge, followed by the chopped cashew. Sprinkle additional salt and freshly ground black pepper on top before serving.