When I think of Mediterranean ingredients, sun-dried tomatoes, lemons, and olives come to mind. But cabbage? Not so much. However, braised all together, they make for a surprising and happy marriage.
The cabbage is sweet, the sun-dried tomatoes are tangy, and the olives are briny. It’s a simple dish in terms of ingredients, but a complex one once it cooks and melds together. No need for me to wax on further about this recipe. I encourage you to make it!
Arliano Update (Aggiornamento Arliano):
Three weeks into our renovation and we’re still in demo-mode. Don’t let those HGTV shows fool you, it doesn’t happen in a day. In our case, we’re going through concrete, plaster, and tiles to dig out trenches in floors and walls to lay new cables for electricity and plumbing. Despite living in a small apartment below our house with the sound of jack hammers doing their business for hours on end, it’s fun to sneak upstairs at the end of each day to see the progress made. Ooh! Look at the hole they made between floors! Wow! Check out the “tankless” toilet tank they’ve already placed in the wall. Ouch! Cringe at the spray paint that the plumbers and electricians used that looks like our house has been tagged by vandals!
I gleefully cancelled our gas account last week. Gas in Italy largely comes from Russia, so it’s expensive to begin with. With everything going on in the world now, prices have tripled. Our last gas bill for heating and cooking was 700 euros (!) but that’s not why we cancelled the account — long before, we decided to go all electric. This meant learning to use an induction stovetop, which has been an interesting learning curve. My All-Clad pots and pans work just fine – in fact anything that a magnet can stick to works for an induction stovetop. My other pans require an intermediary, meaning a special metal plate that sits on the induction stovetop and then the pan sits on that. Pros: Faster heating than gas and supposedly energy efficient. Cons: Not all my pots and pans work on it without the special plate, and it doesn’t decrease heat fast like gas does, which will be my biggest adjustment to make.
The garden gears are starting to move. This week I planted San Marzano and Ox Heart tomatoes seeds in little pots inside (I’m using soil directly from the garden this year, not topsoil purchased in a bag, plus manure). Next week I’ll plant the sweet and hot pepper seeds, followed by various types of squash. It will be Tom’s job to investigate water drip systems. I’m watching the weather forecasts carefully. Nothing will go into the ground until the danger of frosts have passed. As of now we’re still occasionally waking up to white frosty fields. The potatoes will just have to be patient.
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Mediterranean Braised Cabbage and Home Renovations Progress
- 1/2 large green cabbage, cored, and chopped into bite sized pieces
- 8 sundried tomatoes (packed in olive oil), chopped (or more if you like)
- 1/2 cup large green olives, pitted and chopped (or more if you like)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil (preferably from the olive oil used in the jar of sun-dried tomatoes, which will be bursting with flavor)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (for me about 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, but adjust for your tastes)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground red chili pepper (or more if you like)
- Protein of your choice (I used a 200-gram jar of tuna filets packed in olive oil, drained. Chopped baked chicken thighs or breasts would also work well)
- Prepare and chop the cabbage and sun-dried tomatoes, and pit and chop the olives
- Bring a large sauté pan to medium heat and heat the olive oil. Add all the other ingredients except your already cooked protein (e.g., tuna or chicken). Stir, then cover the pan with a lid. Let cook for about 20 minutes, checking on it periodically. If anything is sticking to the bottom of the pan, add a splash of water and re-mix. Cook until the cabbage is well wilted and is becoming transparent.
- At this point remove the lid and raise the heat to medium-high, stirring frequently. Continue to cook until the cabbage starts to brown. Add your desired pre-cooked protein, and stir until it is heated through, then divide into bowls and serve