Thursday, 2 October 2014

Balsamic roasted red cabbage

Balsamic roasted red cabbage

Considering the quantity of vegetables that we - me and my husband I mean - eat every day at dinner, most of the time I spent in the kitchen is dedicated to cleaning and cooking vegetables. And I haven't published any recipe for veggies yet. It's time to do it. The recipe I have chosen is for roasted cabbage flavored with balsamic vinegar. Perfect for incoming fall and winter seasons (even if actually here in Dubai these seasons mean staying outdoor, going to the beach and doing other activities that at other latitudes are typical of spring and summer). But, anyway, when weather becomes relatively cooler, it is time to eat cabbage; everybody should because it is a vegetable packed with benefits for our health. Like the more à-la-page kale or the more common broccoli and Brussel sprout, red cabbage belongs to the family of cruciferous vegetables, whose nutrients and properties are scientifically recognized as capable to improve our health and prevent or even treat some diseases, first of all cancer. But what's good in them?

First of all, and peculiar to red cabbage within the cruciferous family, the red color is due to a strong concentration of plant-based chemicals called flavonoids, that function as antioxidant. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals in the body, which can cause cell damage and make you more susceptible to serious diseases. In addition cruciferous vegetables are the only source of sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates that are responsible for their bitter flavor. Scientific studies have discovered that both flavonoids and glucosinolates help prevent some types of cancer by stopping the growth of cancer cells.
Then vitamins: red cabbage contains vitamin C, A and K, whose benefits are widely known. 
Finally, but not less important, it's a source minerals including iron and potassium (which helps keep blood pressure from getting high), it is high in fiber and low in calories, 
And a curiosity: hangovers from heavy drinking can be reduced by using cabbage, since Roman times (good to know!).
The recipe here is very easy: you just need to slice onion and cabbage, place them in a roasting pan, toss with oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven. A generous splash of balsamic vinegar during the last minutes of cooking and that's all. 
Of course it is a side dish for almost any kind of meat, but I also like the combination of cabbage and salmon, grilled, roasted or steamed. It goes well also with a plate of assorted cheeses. And, for a vegetarian main course, I add it to some cooked quinoa, together with crumbled feta, a splash of olive oil and a bit of freshly ground black pepper.
Balsamic roasted red cabbage

Balsamic roasted red cabbage
serves 4
1 medium red cabbage (about 800 g), washed and sliced
1 large brown onion, peeled and sliced
balsamic vinegar
olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C.
In the meantime, slice onion and cabbage and place them into a large roasting dish; season with salt and pepper (I like to be generous with pepper), add a good splash of olive oil, 2-3 tablespoon of water and toss to coat. 
Balsamic roasted red cabbage

Cover with aluminum foil and roast in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, then eliminate the aluminum, mix with a spatula and roast for another 15 to 20 minutes, mixing halfway, until the vegetables are cooked through (the onion should become crisp on the edges). Sprinkle a generous splash of balsamic vinegar over the vegetables, mix gently and roast for another 15 minutes until the vinegar has evaporated. Transfer to a serving plate and serve.
This dish is good served immediately, very warm, but also at room temperature.

Note: It is a perfect side dish for meat, salmon, or a plate of cheese, but I also like to use it to prepare a delicious quinoa salad (I mix cooked quinoa with the roast cabbage, add a splash of olive oil and a generous handful of crumbled feta cheese and serve lukewarm).

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