A Surprising, Great Sub for Spinach or Kale

Savoy cabbage, an underrated winter vegetable.

In my mother’s kitchen, both variety and quality were, kindly put, meager. But when Grandma Goldie visited: Payday! Cinnamon-laced rice puddings, ethereal cheese blintzes, delicate potato vareniki, and my hands-down favorite: stuffed cabbage rolls. Oh, those pillows of ground beef and rice, that bath of sweet tomato sauce tinged with just enough vinegar to shoot each mouthful to a swoon. I’d be ravenous, her eyes would shine, her lips would say, “Bubala.” Decades later, I’ve never had their equal.

Would I have loved them more had she used savoy cabbage instead of prosaic pale green heads? The more pliant savoy leaves are ideal for rolling, their flavor sweeter and milder. Would Grandma have scoffed at savoy’s elitist ruffles and decorous pleats? She wouldn’t have known that its tender leaves are great raw in salads, their succulence right for soups, their ridges made for absorbing the richness of cream, cheese, bacon fat, and olive oil. She wouldn’t have cared that savoy cabbage hailed from the storybook Alpine region of Italy and France. Hers she knew from plebian Odessan soil, and they’d do just fine. And they did.

But now we do know, and savoy makes regular appearances on menus both rustic and haute. At Keenan House Kitchen & Tap Room (199 Main St, Ossining 914-236-3393; thekeenanhouse.com), Chef Joseph D’Agostino puts his copious beer resources to work with a creamy stout-Brie-Gorgonzola sauce partnering cinnamon-perfumed savoy-apple ravioli. “Savoy cabbage has a sweetness that complements autumn fruit,” he says, “and its texture holds up well in soups and braises.” And so you’ll find it in his hearty caldo verde, a stellar surrogate for spinach or kale. “Cabbage as a category is underrated,” D’Agostino states. “And savoy is the best of them.” Put stuffed cabbage on the menu, Chef, and then we’ll really be in business.

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Savoy Cabbage Hash

Courtesy of Joseph D’Agostino, Keenan House
Kitchen & Tap Room
Serves 6

12  fingerling potatoes      
â…“ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 12-oz dried Spanish Chorizo sausage, diced small (about 1 ½ cups)
1 large Spanish onion diced small
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 head savoy cabbage diced medium
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In medium pot, boil potatoes 5 minutes, cool, and halve lengthwise.                                                                                          

In large cast-iron skillet over medium flame, heat oil. When shimmering, add chorizo and cook 4 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Add onion and garlic and stir with wooden spoon to combine. Cook 5 minutes, lower heat, and add potatoes and cabbage. Cook about 6 minutes, until cabbage is tender and translucent. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 NOTE: For breakfast/brunch, place 2 eggs cooked to your liking on top of hash. For dinner, add diced apple to pan along with cabbage; serve alongside pork chops or fish.

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