One of the online food columns that I enjoy is The New Vegetarian that Yotam Ottolenghi writes for The Guardian in the UK. I was thinking about ways to prepare cabbage and kale that would feel seasonally spring-like and looked up a post from early April called “Yotam Ottolenghi’s seasonal greens with crushed peppercorns recipe.” While his use of three types of peppercorns was the feature of a cabbage and broccoli fricassee served over barley pilaf, I was intrigued by the combination of shallots, ginger and cream coating the parboiled cabbage strips as well as by the use of pink peppercorns. I of course tinkered with this considerably, but the concept represents the typically understated but sophisticated style of a really interesting cook. Now if I can only get my hands on his new cookbook Plenty.
Cabbage and Kale Fricassee (after Yotam Ottolenghi)
½ head of green cabbage, outer leaves cut into 1-inch ribbons (reserve center for another use)
3-4 stalks of green kale, stalks removed and kale torn into pieces
2 tsp butter
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 shallots, cut in small dice
¼-inch slice of fresh ginger, minced
2 tbsp heavy cream (or 1 tbsp sour cream)
Salt to taste
1 tsp pink peppercorns, crushed with a mortar and pestle
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the cabbage strips for about a minute, refresh in cold water and set aside to drain. Do the same with the kale, cooking until barely tender. Drain the water. Heat the butter and oil in the pot and add the shallots and ginger to cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cream and simmer to reduce slightly (you will not have to do that with the thicker sour cream). Return the drained vegetables to the pot, stirring to coat with cream. Season with salt if desired. Sprinkle in the crushed pink peppercorns and combine with the vegetables.
To be closer to the original dish, add crushed white pepper corns and Sichuan pepper in the pan to cook with the shallots and ginger. A variety of vegetables would work with the “sauce,” and it can easily be combined with pasta or grains.