The main reason I am posting this recipe is because the Napa cabbage we’ve been getting in our farm share lately has convinced me there is no prettier vegetable on earth. From those lacy leaves to that ombre green color, Napa cabbage is seriously stunning.
I don’t often pick up a vegetable simply because it looks nice—I mean, there was that one time—but if I were going to start doing it again, Napa would be the one. It’s a star. And talking about Napa cabbage’s beauty is worth talking about because, as far as lists go, Prettiest Vegetables is probably one of the only ones it’d make. I mean, when was the last time you ordered Napa cabbage at a restaurant? Received it on your plate when dining in the home of friends? Looked twice at it in the produce section and brought it home? What do you think about Napa cabbage, if you’ve tried it? Has it registered as something worth shouting about? The thing about Napa cabbage is, despite its curb appeal, it’s still cabbage. Roughage. A colon cleanser. That brings me to the second reason I am posting this recipe: It’s a good one for cleaning things out (and I don’t mean from your refrigerator).
I haven’t talked about it a lot here, but at the beginning of 2013, Tim and I embarked on a series of cleanses. The process was a little intensive, the sort of thing you don’t talk about at the table (if you catch my drift), but the process was also good. In the thick of it, we did a series of short fasts interrupted by heavy vegetables, the idea being to cleanse (through fasting) and flush (through roughage). And still, this many months later, when I eat a plate piled high with a salad like this one, those cleanses are what I think of.
Am I telling you you should eat this salad to cleanse your colon? Yes, I very well might be. But only as I also tell you to eat it for other reasons: To cheer for that sad but beautiful Napa cabbage, for example, the way you might root for the underdog football team; to make a meal that will make you feel wonderfully full, the way only cruciferous vegetables can do; or, there is this, because it tastes good.
I’ll leave which motivations matter to you up to you.
Autumn Napa Cabbage Salad
This salad was inspired by the leftovers in our refrigerator and adapted from a Mark Bittman’s recipe from Cooking Light. Note that I left the vegetable skins on (yay nutrients!); you, of course, could peel them before slicing if you like.
- 1 pound sweet potato, unpeeled, sliced into strips/matchsticks
- ½ pound carrots, unpeeled, sliced into strips/matchsticks
- 2 tablespoon coconut oil
- Pinches of sea salt
- 4 cups ribboned Napa cabbage
- 1 cup sliced onion
- ¼ cup toasted pecan pieces
- ¼ cup fresh parsley
- 1 small (one-ounce) fresh pepper, seeded and diced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Greek yogurt
- Juice of one lime and half a lemon (about ¼ cup)
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 teaspoons warm water, plus more as desired
- squirt of siracha
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Preheat oven to 375F and melt a tablespoon of coconut oil in an 8 X 8 glass baking dish. Toss sweet potato strips with the oil and a pinch of sea salt in that dish; place dish in oven for 30 minutes. Repeat process in another dish with the carrot strips.
- While the sweet potatoes and carrots roast, combine cabbage, onion, pecans, parsley, and pepper in a large bowl.
- In a small bowl, make the dressing by combining olive oil, Greek yogurt, lemon and lime juices, honey, warm water, and siracha, whisking well. Taste the mixture and adjust to your liking — add more water to thin it oil, more honey to sweeten, more siracha for a greater kick, etc.
- When sweet potatoes and carrots are roasted, add them to the cabbage bowl. Drizzle dressing on top; keep adding until the salad is coated to your liking; you likely won’t need all the dressing. Salt and pepper to taste.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.