Monday, April 2, 2012

Sauteed Purple Cabbage with Curried Caramelized Onions & Tomatoes

Sauteed Purple Cabbage with Curried Caramelized Onions & Tomatoes

In cooking and baking, sometimes you don't get what you want.  You have your ingredients, you have the time, and you have the vision, but something gets in the way, whether it's problematic ingredients, a make-it-work moment, or a change of heart.  But what I'm coming to both learn and accept is that this situation of 'not getting what I wanted' is rarely a bad thing.  In fact, most of my "mistakes" have still been a delight for the taste buds, and some of them have actually been better that what I had intended in the first place.   Today's recipe is a perfect example of that.

I had originally wanted to make a version of "chow-chow," a sweet and tangy pickled cabbage relish popular in the South.  I had just come back from the local grocery, had all my ingredients laid out on the counter and was excited to start pickling when I realized I was missing a key ingredient: salt.  

(It's okay to laugh; it's funny)

In my defense, I rarely use salt for cooking, so when I ran out, it didn't seem that urgent.  Surely, if I really needed it, I would just buy it then....right?  Epic fail.

Make it work, Jonathan.

Well, despite the oversight, I still had beautiful ingredients to work with and I still had time to cook, and I was not about to let that go to waste.  So in that make-it-work moment, this is what I came up with.  

So delicious that I just had to share.

Sauteed Purple Cabbage with Curried Caramelized Onions & Tomatoes
Gluten-Free & Vegan

Active Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings

1 tablespoon oil for saute
2 teaspoons curry powder, divided
1/2 c onion, diced
1 1/2 c tomato, seeded & diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon warm water
1/4 c raisins
2 c purple cabbage, chopped
salt & pepper, to taste

1.  Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Add 1 teaspoon curry powder and cook for about 30 seconds.
2.  Add onion and saute for 1-2 minutes until translucent.  Add tomatoes and cook for 1-2 more minutes over medium heat.
3.  Reduce heat slightly and add garlic.  Mound ingredients in the center of the pan and allow them to begin caramelizing for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Good rule of thumb: Not so frequently that they don't brown, but not so infrequently that they burn.  Add more oil and/or reduce heat further if necessary.
4.  When ingredients become sticky and start to "melt together," add pepper flakes and remaining teaspoon of curry powder.  Saute for 1 minute.
5.  Deglaze pan with mixture of vinegar and water, quickly scraping any flavorful caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan (avoid standing directly over the pan when you do this.)  Add raisins and cabbage, stir, and then cover tightly.  Allow to cook for 3-4 minutes.
6.  Uncover, remove from heat and season to taste.

I love the combo of purple and red.

Just starting to get sticky.  Keep it up!

Still steaming from the pan.

There are so many ways to enjoy this vibrantly colored side dish.  Serve it hot with a side of sauteed greens and millet, cold as a brilliant add-in to a pasta or spinach salad, or as an exciting topping to add zing to any sandwich, hot dog, or quesadilla.  And it only tastes better the day after cooking, making it a great dish to make ahead of time.

If living the "canary lifestyle" has taught me anything, it's how to be creative and adapt to situations, especially when it comes to food.  True, we can't always have what we want.  But rather than pout or fret over it, remember that there are countless doors all around us if we will just turn the key. 

What we truly want may just be a "mistake" away.


  1. I just had a big cooking failure and a 'make it work' moment of my own last week. It's so nice to overcome these hurdles. I like the idea of adding this to a sandwich!

    1. Agreed, Lisa! While I use to let those kind of things get me down, I'm definitely getting better at making it work. Everything happens for a reason, and these challenges are the perfect opportunity to become not only better in the kitchen, but better in general at handling life's ups and downs. :)


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