Brassica Galactica: Further Adventures with Cabbage

Red Cabbage with some of its brassica brethren, the infinitely less threatening Brussel Sprouts softening the impact of that ugly red head.

I had passed the morning in the office, feigning work but, in reality, exchanging recipe ideas and generally hymning the praises of chorizo with Aoife @icanhascook and Kristin @edibleireland. At one point, I even confessed to being Half Man/Half Chorizo.

Now, there may be a certain uncouth element out there who immediately imagine I was implying something of an overly bawdy nature. Not a bit of it. In fact, as I later reflected in greater depth on this acknowledgement of my semi-porcine condition, the worst kind of realisation, a Dread Realisation, was visited upon me: that part of me, bright red-orange pork, spotted with great off-white globules of glistening fat, so appallingly, seductively toothsome, lay sunken, deep in the lefthand side of my chest! Oh what piggy hell was this? Had my very heart transmogrified over the years into a giant chorizo.

Nausea swept through me in relentless waves. Knees buckling, a single bead of sweat ran its salty course down to arid lips. Fingers fumbled in futile grasping at the buttons of my shirt til I simply ripped the thing open.

Oh, Sweet Christ’s Pyjamas! Protruding from my (bronzed-from-the-relentless-Irish-sun/taut-as-a-bowstring-from-savage-daily-workouts/not-remotely-manboobish-not-even-slightly) chest was three inches of alternately green and red string, a piece of wire at the end, the precise type of string used to hang chorizos during curing. I screamed (manfully, I must add).

Dumb with horror, disbelief. Too terrified to touch it yet equally gripped by an insane urge to rip the damned thing clean out and to hell with the consequences. I caught it gingerly betwixt forefinger and thumb, swallowed deep, gave the merest hint of a tug. Nothing. I pulled ever so slightly harder. Nothing. Breath now coming in short urgent pants, muttering a fevered prayer, I yanked with all my might. It is the last thing I remember as I collapsed to the floor.

I was immediately airlifted to hospital to be met by a surgeon, The Leading Man In His Field (TLMIHF), he and his team, every man-jack of them, smacking their lips as the heady aroma of frying spicy pigmeat filled the emergency room. It took TLMIHF seconds to reach a diagnosis: ‘Extreme Hypochondria, one of the worst cases I’ve ever seen!’ he said.

‘But what can we do for him, Sir? Is it too late?’ simpered a nurse, adjusting the seam on her nylons, sucking greedily on an onyx cigarette holder, all the while checking her rouge in the shimmering reflection of my manically rolling yet still impossibly clear eyes.

TLMIHF barked: ‘Only one thing can save him now. Salad! I need Cucumber! Tomatoes! Chickpeas! Capers!’ ‘Is that it?’ asked a junior doctor. ‘No,’ snapped TLMIHF, ‘get me Tuna, a TIN of tuna!’ The assembled acolytes gasped, ‘Tuna? A TIN of tuna?’ ‘Why not go for leeches altogether,’ sneered the junior doctor, under his breath. TLMIHF’s glare was instant, icy, withering. The junior doctor turned deathly pale and began to tremble uncontrollably.

‘One more thing,’ hissed the TLMIHF, ‘bring me some sweet and oh-so-crunchy RED CABBAGE.’ Outside, in the waiting room, the assembled throngs of children and womenfolk began to howl inconsolably.

Beauty is on the inside - as any decent art historian will tell you, William Blake based an entire career on cogging the innards of red cabbage.

Antidote Salad of Red Cabbage, Chickpeas & Tuna Dressing

1 tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained. (There is no comparison between tinned chickpeas and those soaked and cooked at home but I love chickpeas so much, this is one of my few concessions to processed food.)

Red Cabbage, quartered and then, one of those quarters halved. Mathematicians among you may prefer to employ the technical term, ‘one-eighth’.

10 cherry tomatoes (out of season, I know, but a treat more beloved than sweets by my two youngest so I guiltily grab a bag from Organic Republic at Mahon Point Farmers Mkt on a Thurs or Douglas Farmers Mkt on a Sat)

½ cucumber (ditto: guilt; Organic Republic; better for bairns than sugar; etc)


1 tin tuna (tinned tuna bears so little relation to fresh tuna – especially truly fresh, travelling from net to plate without a layover in some freezer —that they may be considered entirely different species. Marcella Hazan has many a recipe which opts for tinned tuna over fresh but always stresses tuna in olive oil – anything else is worthless muck. With my beloved Marcella as star witness, I rest the case for the defence.)

30ml good Extra Virgin Olive Oil

¼ Tsp freshly ground black pepper

Sea salt

Juice of ¼ lemon

10-20 Capers, depending on size, rinsed in cold water, dried with paper towel

Cooking Instructions

Slice red cabbage thinly

Peel cucumber and slice into cubes, 1cm sq aprox

Quarter the tomatoes, slicing down through the top

Rinse and drain chickpeas

Place all above together in a large bowl

Drain tinned tuna of any ‘travelling’ liquid and place in food processor. Add olive oil, capers and pepper. Blitz to a runny paste but don’t overdo it, leave a little texture, a little ‘bite’ to the tuna.

Season with salt to taste (remember, capers, though rinsed will still be salty. Taste first, then season!)

Mix in gently to chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes and cabbage ensuring all get a right good coating.

Serve with a generous squeeze of lemon juice and some parsley.

(Naturally, the portion size in the photograph bears no relation whatsoever to the actual portion size favoured by The Swashbuachaill but then The Swashbuachaill is a man of exceedingly generous appetites.) (Furthermore, little lardons of fried chorizo would obviously be quite delicious in this dish. Deliciously fatal to this patient, however, who has sworn off chorizo until sometime late next week. Quite possibly as late as the day after tomorrow.)


10 thoughts on “Brassica Galactica: Further Adventures with Cabbage

  1. Sounds like you had a bad dose of it all right Joe! 🙂 I have often said that I’ve eaten so much pasta in my life, my blood must be part durum wheat by now.

    1. A frightening episode, altogether, Kristin 😉 TBH a lot of guff dreamed up on a lazy Sunday morn to gloss over the fact that I wasn’t putting in the hard yards in my red cabbage recipe challenge with Aoife!

    1. Hi Anne-Marie! sorry to have missed you on your return to the sod but them’s the breaks of small childer herding. Mind you, as you can see, I was gravely, gravely inconvenienced there for a spell! xj

    1. Howdy Chef! was a tad nervous about overdoing it on the brassica front but circumstances sorted that one out and I have been AWOL from both kitchen and blog for a spell. If you read the latest post, you’ll see why – and you’ll also see that I’ll have a fine excuse to blog on sprouts later this month. And why not? After all, if I’m ever caught in bed in some sleazy motel cheating on my wife, it will be with sprouts – a truly magnificent vegetable. Am looking forward to a crack at your Salvadoran recipe although rutabaga is very thin on the ground around these parts.

      1. Egads! Sorry to read about your Christmas, but Hup! Hup! on the New Yule idea. As for rutabaga, we don’t have scarcity around here, from Target no less!:

        It’s one of my favorite vegetables and we always used to add it in batonnet to our Thanksgiving green beans. Besides the lovely contrast with the haricots, I always felt it was my duty to educate the public and every year some customers would be astonished to learn what those “yellow things” were. Sadly, rutabaga probably regularly suffers the same fate as cabbage.

    2. and a ‘Cruyff Turn’! – you sly dog! A vintage replica Cruyff Holland jersey was one of my most treasured possessions until I left it behind in a sweat-stained ball after a game many years ago.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: