THE HUMBLE CABBAGE
Each week I talk with Brian Patrick on Sacred Heart radio about Bible foods and herbs. Today we talked about cabbage, a veggie cultivated thousands of years before Christ was born!
Though cabbage is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, like so many of our heirloom vegetables, it does have an ancient history and my research shows that cabbage was enjoyed by the ancient Greeks and Romans both as food and medicine. Cabbage has been cultivated for more than 4,000 years and domesticated for over 2,500 years so it is truly an ancient vegetable.
The cabbage of Bible times in the Mediterranean was a wilder type, more loose leaf type, it did not head up hard and large like the cabbage of today, since the climate there was warmer and common cabbage is a cool weather crop.
The hard headed varieties were cultivated in the cooler parts of northern Europe and quickly became a popular food. It produced a large harvest in the short growing season and was a wonderful addition to the meager diet of the rural folk. In fact, the word “coleslaw” comes from the Danish, whose word for cabbage was “kool” and for salad “sla”.
How did the Romans and Greek of Bible times eat cabbage?
The Romans ate cabbage soaked in vinegar before an evening of heavy drinking and the accepted remedy for a Roman hangover was simply more cabbage.
Caesar’s armies carried cabbage with them and used it not only for food, but bound wounds with the leaves to reduce infection. We know now that cabbage has antibacterial properties and reduces inflammation, so it would make sense to use the leaves as a kind of poultice.
Both raw and pickled cabbage (sauerkraut) have lots of vitamin C and that helped ward off scurvy that was so common among sailors who had no access to fresh veggies.
Cabbage does have lots of health giving qualities.
Cabbage has been called the poor man’s medicine chest. Many people swear that drinking raw cabbage. Juicing today is very popular, and fresh cabbage juice is a good remedy for a sore throat. And people believe the juice can help ulcers heal. It’s a powerful anti-cancer vegetable as well.
Again, sauerkraut is one of the most nutritious ways to eat cabbage. It’s great for the digestive system. Just don’t overdo at first.
ASIAN STYLE CABBAGE SLAW WITH ALMOND SESAME CRUNCHIES
Tuck this into your recipe box for that Labor Day picnic!
1 medium head cabbage, shredded or chopped
1 bunch green onions, white and green parts, sliced thin
1/2 to 3/4 cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
2 pkgs. Ramen noodles: chicken variety, broken into small pieces and toasted (flavor packet set aside and saved for dressing)
To toast noodles, almonds and sesame seeds:
Smash noodles and brown in 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Once they start to brown, add almonds. When almonds start to get golden, stir in sesame seeds. Watch so sesame seeds don’t burn. Let cool.
Whisk together in pan or microwave until sugar dissolves. Taste and add more of any seasoning if you like.
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil or to taste (opt)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 seasoning packets from Ramen noodles
Let cool before assembling salad.
Toss cabbage, onions, noodles, almonds and sesame seeds together.
Pour dressing over to coat – you may not need all of the dressing.
GOOD ADD INS: A few cups of diced cooked chicken (I like to use Deli roasted chicken).