I’ve been thinking a lot about language lately. How we use it to shape our thoughts yet how language itself creates those thoughts simply by us thinking within it. Fitting then that as I began to write this post about all things cruciferously lovely that the image I want to use to describe the vegetables I grew up knowing is of school dinners, despite the fact I never ate one! Language association transcends experience, apparently.
Whilst I didn’t ever eat a school dinner, the cabbage and sprouts, and really most other vegetables I grew up with were what I politely define as a tad overcooked. Vegetables were a side to the meal, not the complete meal, and as most meals served with vegetables were smothered in gravy, though the fibre was kind of lost, we did receive the nutrients. A Turkish approach to vegetables is the opposite. Rather than a side dish, the vegetable is often the star, which is why in my pressure cooker now sits half a small white cabbage. Just when I say “small”, I say “small” on a Turkish cabbage scale, which is larger than any cabbage you’ve ever seen sold in Tesco and could hold its’ own in any Giant Vegetable competition. Were I organised enough to have photos at the touch of a search button you’d be able to see how a baby’s head is dwarfed by comparison, sadly my disk drive would make anyone cry so imagination will have to suffice. The cabbages here are big. Were you to buy one and attempt to use it all up British style, you’d be eating roast dinners for a week and then more. Which is why there’s half a cabbage bubbling away in my favourite kitchen gadget, mixing with minced beef and onions and just a tad of garlic, with tomatoe paste a plenty. It will simmer for 45minutes until the cabbage is tender to be reminiscent of school dinners yet instead of being limp smelly and grey, it will have taken on a red hue from the paste and the aroma will have mellowed to be almost non-cabbagey. Heaped atop simple boiled rice & sprinkled with red pepper to taste, it is comfort food in its most nutritious form, the perfect winter day simple meal and miles away from a cold dining hall.
ps. this is just as delicious if you swap out the cabbage for cauliflower and/or swap tomatoe for red pepper paste.
Turkish Stewed Cabbage with Meat: Kapuska
Chop onions. Saute in olive oil until softened but not browned. Add garlic and mince; continue cooking to seal the meat. Add a few heaped tablespoons of tomatoe paste and mix well. Squash the chopped cabbage leaves down into the pan and top with hot water until just below the level of the cabbage. Stir. If the water doesn’t look red, add more paste. Cook over medium heat until cabbage is soft, but not mushy. Enjoy for dinner with rice, for lunch with crusty bread or for breakfast with a fried egg on top!