Savoy Cabbage & Leek Kimchi

This is an Irish take on the traditional, spicy, fermented side dish from Korea, kimchi. The most common kimchi is traditionally made with Chinese leaf (or Napa) cabbages, but we love to make seasonal versions all year round with our incredible range of Irish cabbages. This recipe would work with any cabbage but my favourite cabbage for kimchi has got to be the beautiful Savoy. With its beautiful ruffled edged, crinkly leaves and deep ridges, it is the perfect vessel to hold the spice paste and it is hardy enough to keep its shape even after fermentation. We have a wonderful harvest of savoys this year, why not add some extras to your next order and give fermenting a go!

Fermenting vegetables can sound a little strange and like a lot of work. But it is actually a very simple way to preserve excess vegetables (just a case of salting or submerging vegetables in brine and leaving them to do their thing at room temperature for a week or so) and it is incredibly beneficial to our health. Fermented vegetables contain trillions of live beneficial bacteria which enhance our gut health. This has a positive knock-on effect to our entire wellbeing. As well as being easy and super-healthy, fermented vegetables are completely delicious! They have a complex flavour and cut through rich foods, think ‘salty pickles’. Just the thing for finishing off a dish or popping into a salad or sandwich. We have jars of ferments on the table for pretty much every meal. Kimchi, of course, goes particularly well with rice bowls and ramens or rolled into sushi, but we are a bit addicted to ‘kimcheese’ toasties. Kimchi is also amazing on peanut butter toast or as a side with macaroni cheese. How do you eat kimchi?

Liz x

Ingredients

  • 1 savoy cabbage
  • 1 leek
  • natural sea salt
  • 1/2 bulb garlic
  • 4 red chillies (or to taste)
  • 1 large ‘thumb’ of fresh ginger (or to taste)

Method

  1. First clean your work surface and the tools you will need – Find a large jar or several smaller jars and wash them and their lids well with dish soap. Rinse throughly with very hot water. Leave to air dry on a clean tea towel. Find your largest mixing bowl, or if you don’t have a very big one, use a large stock pot or plastic storage box. Clean it very well as above. Clean a large chopping board and knife and a small blender too. Now you are ready to start.
  2. Pull a few of the tough, outer leaves off your cabbage, rinse and put to one side for later. These will be your ‘followers’ which will be important later. Rinse the rest of the cabbage, slice the leek in half lengthways, keeping the root end intact, and rinse out all the mud. Rinse your chillies and thumb of ginger too.
  3. Chop the cabbage into quarters, remove the core from each quarter and thinly slice it and add it to the bowl. Then cut the rest of the cabbage into bite sized chunks and add them to the bowl. Chop up the leek into chunks too and add it to the bowl with the cabbage.
  4. Now you need to add salt. If you want to be very precise, you can weigh the chopped cabbage and leek, work out what 2% of that weight is and use that amount of salt. Or you can do it by taste. I normally start with a heaped tbsp of salt for a whole cabbage and a leek. Mix it well and give the veg a bit of a squeeze and a massage, then taste. They should just taste pleasantly salty. Add more salt if needed, our cabbages are pretty big at the moment so you may well need to. Then let the salted vegetables sit while you make the spice paste.
  5. Peel the garlic, slice off the stalks of the chillies and slice the ginger. Add them all to a small blender and blend into a paste. You may need to add a splash of water to help it blend.
  6. The salt in the cabbage and leek will have started to draw out liquid from the vegetables and create a brine in the bottom of the bowl. You can help this along by giving the vegetables another massage. The vegetables will wilt and decrease in volume and should look quite wet. When you pick up a handful and squeeze, lots of lovely brine should drip down into the bowl. Then you know you are ready to mix in the spice paste and pack your jars.
  7. Use a wooden spoon or gloved hands to mix the spice paste into the salted vegetables. Be careful not to get any of the spice paste on your skin or in your eyes as it can really sting. Then start packing your jar/s.
  8. Do a small amount at a time and firmly press it into the jar ensuring there are no air pockets. Use gloved hands or a clean rolling pin or spoon to help you pack it firmly into place. Keep going until you have either used up the mixture or you have a couple of inches of headroom left in your jar. You don’t want to over-fill the jar as during fermentation the brine can bubble over and escape, making a bit of a mess in your kitchen.
  9. Now you need to figure out a way to hold the vegetables safely down under the brine. Any veg exposed to air on the surface are likely to catch mould. So first use the outer leaves of the cabbage, that you saved at the beginning, to tuck the vegetables in so they won’t float up during fermentation. Take your time and press the edges of the leaves down around the insides of the jar to ensure there are no gaps for the chopped bits to escape through.
  10. When you are happy that your ‘follower’ leaf has done its job, you can add a weight to hold everything down under brine. This needs to be something food safe that won’t react with the salt. So glass is best. A small water glass or ramekin which fits inside your jar and can be pinned down with the lid is good. Or fill a clean pesto jar or similar with water, make sure the metal lid isn’t touching brine, and pop that in. Other weight ideas are a large, very clean (boiled) beach pebble (just make sure it is not a limestone/chalk) or a ziplock bag filled with water.
  11. Place the lid loosely on your jar so that gases can escape during fermentation but no bugs/dust can get in. Or you can put the lid on tight and ‘burp’ your jars every day by opening and closing them to release built up gases. If you have a clip-top jar like mine, you can simply remove the rubber seal during fermentation.
  12. Put the jar on a tray or plate on your work surface out of direct sunlight. Let it ferment for 1 week then it should have transformed into a tangy, delicious pickle! If you would like to ferment for longer then you can of course, just find a cooler part of your house like a basement so that it ferments slowly. When you are happy with the flavour you can remove the weight and ‘follower’ and pop the jar into the fridge where it will keep for 3-12 months.
  13. Make your kimchi last well by decanting it into smaller, very clean jars and just eat one jar at a time. This way the pickle will be exposed to less air. Also, never double dip when eating your kimchi as this would introduce new bacteria from your mouth into the jar. Enjoy!
Here you can see the weight holding the cabbage leaf ‘follower’ down, which pins all the chopped vegetables safely under brine. This is after 1 week of fermenting at room temperature.

Quick Cabbage & Potato Curry

For a warming bowl of hearty food in a hurry, try this quick curry. Cabbage and potato are made for each other aren’t they? With the addition of some warming curry spices and creamy coconut milk, these humble ingredients can really sing! Of course you can tweak the recipe as you like with the addition of cooked chickpeas and some cauliflower/romanesco florets etc. Let us know if you tried it in the comments or over on our community facebook group.

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 8 small/medium potatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 a savoy cabbage, sliced
  • fresh chilli to taste, sliced
  • 1 heaped tsp each: brown mustard seeds, turmeric, curry powder, salt and black pepper
  • 1 400g tin coconut milk
  • *optional extras* – cooked chickpeas, cauliflower/romanesco florets…
  • Indian chutneys and natural yoghurt to serve

Method

  1. In a large, heavy bottomed pan (which has a lid), fry the onion and garlic with the vegetable oil until golden and soft.
  2. Add the potatoes, spices and seasoning and sauté until fragrant. Add a small glass of water then put the lid on and allow the potatoes to steam cook for 8 minutes or until tender. Test with a knife.
  3. Then add the cabbage, coconut milk and chilli to the pan, return the lid and let the cabbage wilt for 3 minutes. (Here’s where you can add the cooked chickpeas if using.)
  4. Then stir the vegetables together, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed with more salt/pepper, return the lid one last time for a further 3 minutes and your curry is done!
  5. Serve in warm bowls with Indian chutneys and natural yoghurt. Enjoy!

Savoy Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage rolls are so delicious! The simmered cabbage wrappers turn tender and sweet and are the perfect vessel to hold together a tasty filling. I lean towards herby brown rice, mushrooms and beans as in the recipe below, but of course you can fill them with whatever you like. Traditional minced meat and seasonings, a spiced mashed potato and chickpea curry, or make a twist on an enchilada and stuff your leaves with a tasty chilli? Bake in a rich tomato sauce, a curried coconut broth or simmer in a simple stock. Cabbage rolls can roll with whatever you are in the mood for. How do you make yours?

Liz x

Ingredients (for 8 rolls)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 white onion, peeled and diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and diced
  • 1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 400g tin of black beans, drained
  • 200g short grain brown rice, rinsed
  • 400ml water
  • 1 tbsp dried dill
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 savoy cabbage leaves, rinsed
  • natural yoghurt to serve

Method

  1. Start with the filling. In a small pot which has a lid, fry the mushrooms and 2 cloves of garlic with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and when the mushrooms start to take on some colour, add the rice, drained black beans, dill and water. Put the lid on the pot. As soon as it starts to boil, turn the heat down to the lowest setting. The rice should absorb all the water and be perfectly cooked after around 20-30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile make the tomato sauce. In a wide, heavy bottomed pan which has a lid, fry the onions and 4 cloves of garlic with 1 tbsp of olive oil until golden and soft. Add the bay leaves and the tin of tomatoes. Swirl the juices from the tin into the pot too with half a tin of water. Season with salt and pepper and let the sauce gently simmer while you wait for the rice to cook.
  3. Once the rice is cooked through, taste it and adjust the seasoning if needed with more salt, pepper or dill. Then you can assemble the rolls.
  4. Use a rolling pin or the heel of your hand to flatten the tough stalk of each leaf. This will make it easier to roll. Then divide the rice between the 8 leaves and wrap them up. I find it easiest to have the stalk end closest to me, place the rice in the centre of the leaf, then roll the end of the stalk away from me, over the rice, tuck the sides of the leaf in, then roll on to the top of the leaf.
  5. Place the parcels, seam side down into the tomato sauce. Tuck them in snuggly so that they don’t unravel as they cook. Then put the lid on, turn the heat to medium and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the leaves are tender. Alternatively you can place the pot in a hot oven.
  6. Serve with tangy natural yoghurt and enjoy!

Steam-Fried Cabbage

Have we mentioned? Perhaps just once or twice? We have a LOT of cabbages coming out of our fields right now! Although we love cabbages – they are sweet and juicy, delicious raw or cooked, super-duper healthy (they are packed full of vitamins C and K and have loads of fibre and other amazing properties) – we know that it can be a bit hard to get inspired by them in the kitchen. I’ve done a ‘4 Ways With…Cabbages’ blog already which you can read here (it was written for January King cabbages but the same recipes can apply to pointed, savoy etc) and sauerkraut recipes here and here. But this recipe is the one I actually use the most at home. It’s so easy and so delicious! Who would have thought that cabbage would be the star of the plate?

Steam-frying involves caramelising a side or two of the cabbage first before adding stock and a lid to steam the cabbages until cooked through. The result? Sweet and smokey, juicy and tender, succulent wedges of cabbage with a stunning broth. I love it served over a simple grain/pulse – this time I went for some nutritious quinoa – and topped with something really ‘punchy’ like the capers used here. Some other ideas using the same steam-fry technique:

  • Serve it over rice (make the stock miso or soy-sauce infused) and top with a drizzle of sriracha and some toasted sesame seeds?
  • Serve over mashed potatoes and top with a dollop of mustard and a side of sausages?
  • Serve over warmed butterbeans or chickpeas (put chopped tomatoes and garlic in the stock) and top with smoked paprika, chilli flakes and toasted almonds?
  • Serve over pasta (put lemon juice and garlic in the stock) and top with cheese or pesto?
  • Serve alongside a Sunday roast?

Have you got any good ideas on how to serve steam-fried cabbage? Share them in the comments below or over on our community facebook group here.

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 pointed cabbage
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 stock cube
  • quinoa and capers to serve (or see above for alternative serving suggestions)

Method

  1. Prepare your quinoa (or other base eg rice, potatoes, beans, chickpeas, pasta). For 4 people, I rinse a mug of quinoa through a fine sieve then pop it into a pot with a mug and 1/2 of water. Bring to the boil with the lid on, then turn to the lowest setting and simmer until the quinoa has absorbed all the water (about 10-15 minutes) and released it’s little tails. Take the pot off the heat but leave the lid on and let the quinoa rest.
  2. Meanwhile grab your largest pan that has a lid. A wide, shallow casserole dish is perfect. In fact, if you don’t have one of these, I highly recommend investing in an oven and hob safe one as they are so useful!
  3. Rinse the cabbage, remove any unwanted outer leaves and pop them in the compost bin. Use a large knife to carefully cut the cabbage into quarters, lengthways. You need to keep the core intact.
  4. Drizzle the quarters with the olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Then place, cut side own, into the pan. Put the pan onto a medium high heat.
  5. Fry the cut sides of the cabbage wedges until they are beautifully coloured and caramelised. Meanwhile crumble the stock cube into 500ml of just-boiled water.
  6. Once you are happy that all the wedges are nicely caramelise, add the stock to the pan and pop the lid on. Keep an eye on the cabbage now, you may need to turn the heat down a bit to stop the stock boiling over. After around 8-10 minutes, the cabbages should be tender. Test with a sharp knife. If your cabbage is very large it may take longer of course.
  7. Serve over the quinoa (or other chosen base) and spoon over the stock. Top with capers (or other chosen topping) and eat whilst still warm.

4 Ways With… January King Cabbage

A cabbage can be a tricky beast to use up and we get asked for cabbage recipes all the time over on our community facebook group. If you are stuck on what to do with the cabbage in your box this week, then this is the video for you. Although I used a beautiful January King from my weekly subscription box, of course the recipes can also be applied to a savoy cabbage.

These are just four of the many ways that I use up a cabbage regularly. Please share your favourite cabbage recipes with us and other readers in the comments. There can never be too many cabbage recipe ideas…especially at this time of year! Liz x

Cabbage Rolls (serves 4)

  • 8-10 outer leaves of the cabbage
  • 1 mug or so of leftover cooked short grain brown rice (or cook fresh. Simply measure 1/2 a mug of rice into a pot, add 1 mug of water and bring to the boil with the lid on, then turn down and simmer until the rice has absorbed all the liquid)
  • 10 minced mushrooms sautéed with garlic, salt and pepper
  • a tin of kidney beans, drained, rinsed and squished
  • a pot of simple tomato sauce (a sliced onion and 2 cloves of diced garlic fried in a little olive oil, simmered with a tin of chopped tomatoes, a little water, salt, pepper and a tbsp of dried dill)

Rinse your cabbage well and remove as many outer leaves as you can. I try to get 8-10 to feed the four of us.

Use a rolling pin to roll out and flatten the chunky stem that runs up the middle of each leaf.

Mix together the mushrooms, rice and kidney beans. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Then neatly roll up a couple of tbsp of the filling into each each cabbage leaf and tuck them snuggly into the sauce. They should be sealed side down so that they don’t unravel in the sauce. See video above for how to do that.

Put the lid on the dish and roast it in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the cabbage leaves are soft and the sauce is bubbling.

Serve with tangy natural yoghurt, pepper, more dill and a slice of sourdough bread.

Cabbage & Apple (serves 4 as a side)

  • 1 sliced apple
  • shredded 1/4 of a cabbage
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp butter or vegetable oil
  • a small glass of cider/white wine/apple juice (or a tbsp vinegar and a glass of water)

Heat up the sliced apple with the butter/oil while you shred the cabbage.

Add the shredded cabbage and season it with salt and pepper. Let it cook down for a little while.

Once it starts to sizzle, add your liquid (cider/wine/apple juice/vinegar-water) and give it a good stir.

Pop the lid on the pot and let the cabbage and apple gently braise and soften for 10 minutes or so. This is a perfect side to a Sunday roast or with mashed potato, veggie sausages and wholegrain mustard!

Cabbage ‘Slaw (serves 4)

Mix the carrot and cabbage in a large bowl with the dressing.

Top with the nuts, seeds, chilli and spring onion.

Serve rolled up in soaked rice paper wrappers for crunchy, raw spring rolls. Or just eat it as it is or with some of our Thai rice noodles for a fresh and crunchy, zingy salad.

Cabbage & Coconut Curry (serves 4 as a side)

Make a tarka first by frying the cumin, mustards seeds, chilli, garlic and curry leaves in hot vegetable oil until very fragrant.

Add the sliced cabbage and season it with salt and pepper. Then add the ground ginger and turmeric and stir to coat the cabbage in the spices.

Add the juice of 1/2 a lime and a tin of coconut milk and simmer until the cabbage is cooked through but still a bit crunchy.

Serve as a side to other curries and rice. Or make it the main event and bulk it out by adding cooked potatoes and a drained and rinsed tin of chickpeas.