Cabbage turns new leaves


The past few years my local markets have been stocking more varieties of cabbage than just the common, round, green heads.

Cabbages fall into two categories: those that are round and form hearts and those that are elongated. The green cabbages, the ones with the tightly packed, waxy leaves, fall in the first class along with the Savoys, which are distinguished by their attractive ruffled leaves. Red cabbages also belong to this genre. Napas, or Chinese cabbages, are the most readily available of the tall, slender types. (Bok choy is also a Chinese cabbage but belongs to another species.)

Last week I couldn't resist buying several beautiful Savoy cabbages while shopping. They were delicious served with thyme-rubbed broiled lamb chops and small red skin potatoes tossed in butter, and would be equally tempting paired with grilled salmon fillets or roasted chicken.

Creamed Savoy Cabbage and Peas

Serves 6

2 (1 1/4 -pound) heads Savoy cabbage with several attractive outer leaves

1/4 cup unsalted butter, plus more if needed

1/3 cup whipping cream

1/3 cup low-sodium chicken stock

2 cups fresh shelled peas or 1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas, thawed (see note)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon chopped chives or flat-leaf parsley

Remove and reserve 3 attractive leaves from each head of cabbage. Halve each cabbage lengthwise through base and cut out and discard tough inner cores. Cut each half, lengthwise, into 1/2 -inch-wide strips. Cut off and discard any tough white veins in strips. (You should have about 12 cups cabbage.)

Heat butter in large heavy skillet (with lid) over medium heat. When hot, add cabbage and saute, stirring constantly, until wilted, 5 to 6 minutes. If needed, add a little extra butter so that cabbage does not brown.

Pour in cream and stock. Reduce heat and cook, covered, 5 minutes, stirring several times to prevent cabbage from sticking. Remove lid and add peas. Cook, stirring, until peas are tender, 1 to 2 minutes more. All liquids should be absorbed and cabbage should be tender but still have a little crispness. Cook, stirring, a few minutes more if necessary.

Season with 1 teaspoon salt, or more if needed. (Cabbage and peas can be prepared 30 minutes ahead. Leave at cool room temperature and reheat before serving.)

To serve, arrange 6 reserved cabbage leaves on serving plate. Mound some cabbage and peas in each and sprinkle each portion with some chives.

Note: If fresh peas are not available, frozen peas that have been thawed and patted dry can be substituted. However, frozen peas, even thawed and dried, will sometimes add extra moisture to the mixture.

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