For most of my life the extent of my cabbage eating came in the form of Chinese egg rolls and deli style mayo drenched cole slaw, oh man was I missing out! Several years back I started experimenting with Asian style cabbage slaws and even cabbage filled pot stickers, but still it took me a while longer before I discovered a comforting, mildly sweet and delicious bowl of cooked cabbage and I haven’t looked back since. I actually owned my copy of Heidi Swanson’s fantastic (the name alone is cool enough!) “Super Natural Every Day” for about a year before I finally tried her recipe for White Beans & Cabbage with parmesan, potatoes and cabbage. The crazy thing is, the cover photo for the book is exactly that and it looks unbelievably delicious, I stared at that cover for a year thinking “yum” “must try”, but every time I decided this would be the day something got in the way, sometimes I had cabbage but no potatoes on hand, other days I had all the ingredients but got lazy and opted for a more familiar option to cook for dinner. But finally one day, the planets aligned and I finally made it and oh was it gooood. The cabbage cooks up soft and mildly sweet, but still maintains a little texture, the beans are creamy and the potatoes nice and crisp, top with some melty mozzarella and served with a hunk of crispy toasted baguette drizzled with a little olive oil and you have a perfect bowl of comfort food, yum.
When I first started making this, I just couldn’t get my potatoes quite crisp enough using Heidi’s method of pan cooking them first and then adding the other ingredients in, they’d start out crisp and then go a little limp. Next I tried cooking the potatoes, removing from the pan and then adding them back in at the very end, still not perfect enough for me. Finally, I struck gold when I decided to oven roast my tiny diced potatoes, with a good coating of olive oil, they cook up perfectly crisp and adding them to each individual bowl like a nice crispy crouton on top, keeps them just right throughout the meal.
During my process of experimenting with this recipe, I came across another similar recipe in one of my other current favorite cookbooks Sara Forte’s “The Sprouted Kitchen”, in Sara’s “Braised White Beans and Leeks”. I ended up combining the two recipes taking the best of each (at least to my palate), Heidi’s crispy potatoes, Sara’s leeks, celery, herbs and melty mozzarella. The resulting dish is a perfect bowl of comfort on a cold winter night.
White Beans & Cabbage with Leeks and Crispy Potatoes
Author: Sweet Green Kitchen’s Jennifer Jones
2 Leeks – well cleaned, quartered lengthwise & diced
2 stalks Celery – diced
2 cloves Garlic – chopped
2-4 medium Yukon Gold Potatoes – diced
2 cups cooked White Beans OR a drained & well rinsed 15 oz can
1 medium head Green Cabbage (any variety Savoy, Napa, etc.) – chopped – about 3 cups
1-2 Tablespoons fresh Thyme
1-2 Tablespoons fresh Rosemary
1-2 Tbsp Butter
1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil, plus another good drizzle for the potatoes
Black Pepper or Crushed Red Pepper
Grated Romano or Parmesan Cheese
2-4 ounces fresh Mozzarella- diced
2-3 cups Water
Preheat oven to 375 F. Dice potatoes and place on a roasting pan. Toss with olive oil, salt and about 1 teaspoon of rosemary. Roast for about 35 minutes until crispy golden brown, tossing around after 20 minutes.
Heat a large, deep oven proof skillet over medium heat. Melt in 1 Tbsp Butter plus 1 Tbsp Olive oil. Add chopped Leeks, plus a good pinch of salt and cook about five minutes until softened and beginning to brown.
Meanwhile, dice the Celery and chop the Garlic, add to Leeks and continue cooking until the vegetables are soft. Add chopped Thyme & Rosemary. IF you like, season with Black or Crushed Red Pepper.
Add in the Beans plus a bit more salt and cook until starting to brown. Meanwhile wash the Cabbage and slice into thin shreds.
Add the Cabbage to the pan and stir around a few minutes until softened. Add 2 – 3 cups water as the Cabbage cooks. The water will help deglaze any bits stuck to the pan, plus create a nice saucy mix.
Once the potatoes are done, remove from the oven and set aside. Heat up the broiler.
Top the cooked cabbage & beans mix with a layer of freshly grated Romano or Parmesan Cheese and then with the diced mozzarella. Place the pan in the oven a few inches under the broiler. Watch carefully, until the cheese is nicely melted and browned. Remove from the oven.
Spoon the cabbage and beans mix into individual bowls and top each with roasted potatoes, like croutons. Serve immediately with some toasted crusty multigrain bread or a nice baguette drizzled with a little olive oil if you like. Enjoy!