St. Patrick’s Day is next week. As far as drinking holidays go, I prefer Cinco de Mayo–the weather is better, tacos are tasty and my neighbors are mostly Mexican. I will take a nice stout Irish beer over a Mexican lager any day. But corned beef? Ugh. Plus, it’s not even Irish. And, unless you make it yourself, it’s chalk-full of strange chemicals. Like, you have to wear gloves while preparing it.
So last night I experimented with a non-corrosive alternative to provide some padding for our Guinness come next Thursday.
Please don’t think I eat like this all the time, usually or even often. If I did, I would weigh ten pounds less and have boundless energy. And who wants that? Most days, the deliciousness, convenience and lethargy surrounding a pot of noodles smothered in Newman’s Own and cheese really hits the spot.
But, but, but. The dinner I made last night is very nearly as quick and easy as pasta, tastes even better and is ridiculously good for you. And it can be eaten by anybody: vegans, gluten avoiders, the Irish, lactose intolerables, low-carb killjoys and even meat eaters can scarf this down in good conscience.
I tried to come up with a name that wouldn’t freak people out, but I couldn’t. So here it is…
Cabbage ‘n’ Beans
- One large head of napa cabbage, cut into eighths
- One 15 oz can of dark red kidney beans
- One bulb of garlic
- Olive oil
- Salt, sea or kosher
- One lemon
- Parsley (optional–I initially added it only for the photograph, but then it turned out to be a great counterpoint)
Here’s what I did
Brush the cabbage sections with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Arrange them in a casserole dish or baking pan and stick it in an oven that’s been preheated to 375 degrees (or so, my oven’s temperature is mysterious). Leave it in there for 25-30 minutes. Use tongs to turn the cabbage over about 15 minutes in.
Meanwhile, chop up the entire bulb of garlic and set it to saute on very low heat in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Crack open the can of beans, give them a good rinse, drain as much liquid as possible and after several minutes, add them to the garlic. Let them simmer for about eight minutes.
Serve the cabbage ‘n’ beans side by side, with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over (this is essential!) and hopefully some parsley too.
I plan on experimenting with a wide variety of cabbages–red, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and even kale. As far as beans go, I was super impressed with the nutritional content of dark red kidneys. Look at how good these things are for you: Iron, protein, even calcium, no fat and hardly any sugar. They are also extremely flavorful, much more so than the normal kidneys. You could use any bean, of course. I think cannellini beans would go great with red cabbage, chick peas with Brussels sprouts and maybe kidney beans again with cauliflower. Shoot for contrasting colors, which are pretty and indicate a variety of nutrients.
This is surprising, but depending on where your beans come from, it’s often more environmentally sound to choose canned beans over dried. This article explains why, but also makes the point that eating beans in any form is always better for the environment (and your body) than eating meat.