It’s been said that a messy kitchen is a happy kitchen. Post lockdown, I’m not so sure.
Stuck at home with no school lunches and only the occasional takeout meal, dirty dishes have become my family’s quicksand, drowning out the memory of a delicious meal in the pain of the clean-up. Really, who cares how amazing the risotto was if it left a sink full of pots in its wake?
Exit complex recipes, and enter batch cooking — pasta bakes, oversized rice salads, one-pot meals, and logs of frozen cookie dough that we can slice and bake on demand. Cooking in large quantities ahead of time has always been a smart way to save time, money, and food. These days it’s also saving our sanity.
As the weather warms and we all strive to unload our quarantine 15, I’ve been less in the mood for hearty casseroles and more in the mood for dishes that are fresh, light and colorful. Luckily, batch-cooking doesn’t have to be heavy, and it definitely doesn’t have to be bland.
Make-ahead pickled veggies like this Purple Cabbage Slaw are a delicious and healthy way to dress up simple home cooking. An easy entry to pickling, the flavor in this recipe sets over three days, and the beautiful transformation of taste and color is a built-in science experiment for the kids.
The best part about this crisp, tangy slaw is that it tastes great with so many things. It’s an easy side for summer barbecues; the sharp taste cuts anything greasy or fried; and it’s the perfect pairing for healthier dishes in need of extra flavor. You can toss it with greens, add it to sandwiches, or top it with a scoop of chicken salad, meatballs, or a piece of grilled fish. Purple slaw also tastes great with cheesy quesadillas, tacos, rice bowls, or croquettes.
And if you’re nostalgic for that overpriced hipster café across town, try this on a Saturday morning: Mashed avocado on toasted sourdough with a little feta cheese, Purple Slaw, and a fried egg.
Purple Cabbage Slaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Marinade Time: 3 days
1 medium purple cabbage (about 10 cups sliced thin)
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
3 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon onion powder
Fresh chives, chopped
1. In a large bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except the cabbage, and let the mixture sit for a few minutes.
2. Meanwhile, slice the cabbage very thin, removing the thick white stem in the middle. Add the cabbage slices to the bowl of dressing.
3. Toss the cabbage with the dressing until it’s evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate for three days, stirring once each day to distribute the flavors.
Mimi Sabo is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. Her writing and musings on food can be found on her blog DontLickYourknife.