Cabbage is not my favorite vegetable, but it's one of those winter storage staples and has been showing up in our CSA box. This recipe is one way to use a bunch of it at once. Carrots and fennel (optional) add notes of intriguing sweetness, and the whole thing is coated with a hot and spicy dressing. Be warned: this salad is delicious but is not for the faint of heart (or palate). Although the dressing is allowed to sit overnight to blend and mellow, fresh garlic, ginger, and chili paste give it a hefty kick. Also note that the preparation needs to be started the night before. The good news is that the salad will keep for several days in a sealed container in the refrigerator. This dish was inspired by a recipe in Didi Emmons’s Vegetarian Planet.
1 medium red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 medium savoy or napa cabbage, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
3 medium carrots, in thin 1-inch lengths
1 large fennel bulb and stalks, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sea salt
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
2-3 tsp chili paste
4-5 garlic cloves, finely minced
2-3 Tbsp finely minced fresh ginger
1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed, ground, or minced
Combine the red cabbage, savoy or napa cabbage, red onion, carrots, and fennel in a large bowl. Add water until the vegetables are just covered. Sprinkle with the salt, then stir gently to mix and dissolve. Cover and set aside.
Combine the rice vinegar, canola oil, chili paste, garlic, ginger, and fennel seeds in a small bowl or jar. Cover and set aside. Let both the vegetables and dressing sit overnight at room temperature.
The following day, drain the vegetables but do not rinse them, then toss them with the dressing, making sure everything gets well coated. If not serving the salad immediately, place it in a sealed container in the refrigerator.