Cabbage made its first appearance in our CSA as of last week. It has quickly become one of my favorite crops to grow and to harvest, for no reason other than the pure joy it evokes in me these days. However, for most of my life, I never really thought much of cabbage. If anything, I found cabbage to be one of the most uninteresting vegetables and had a well-established indifference towards it that I never questioned. I took cabbage for granted — dare I say, like many of us do.
But, over the last few years, as I have deepened my relationship with food, splitting my days working between busy kitchens and small-scale urban farms, I have developed a profound love for cabbage. Such an underappreciated, versatile, enduring vegetable. It shines, in its own special way, in so many different forms– raw, slaw, salad, sauteed, stir fried, pickled, fermented, roasted, braised and seared – even boiled cabbage, for all the ick it often evokes, has its place–think cabbage rolls:) It lasts forever in my fridge, particularly when I take care to only extract what I need for a serving, gently peeling back a leaf at a time, like unfurling petals. Even when I cannot resist the urge to slice open a fresh cabbage, and I cut it right down the middle, revealing an intricate, mesmerizing cross section (I often see a tree, but each cabbage can act like its own Rorschach test), I find her to be among the most forgiving, durable vegetables in my fridge. And I profoundly appreciate cabbage for that.
The cabbage I helped harvest last week was one of the first crops I planted at Pennypack. Even in the winter, in their earlier stages of growth, packed tightly in their little trays, I was taken by the beauty of their color–particularly the purple cabbage leaves. Now, in the full sun of summer, is the best time to witness the leaves in all their grandeur and glory. I often get distracted while harvesting and have to stop and take a picture, to try to capture the magical, warm glow of sunlight through the leaves, bright and deeply radiant, awe-inspiring, silently holy, like the stained glass of a church window.
Amongst the farm crew we’ve discussed how the English language lacks adequate vocabulary to describe some of the natural phenomena we witness around the farm–the glowing of sunlight through leaves is one of them. For now, we’ve landed on “floraluminesence.” I’ve included some pictures–cabbage is by no means the only plant to exude such beauty when held up to the sunlight, but it is one to appreciate this time of year.
–Sahar, First Year Apprentice
Give some of these recipes a try.