Until I joined my CSA, I always thought of cabbage as a fall vegetable. It showed up in abundance in the fall, and I loved to cook it with other hearty fall flavors: apple, bacon, caraway seeds. But for the last few weeks, I've been getting a big head of green cabbage in my share (apparently my farmer, Patti, has had a bumper crop this year).
At first I was a bit stumped: the usual cabbage dishes in my repertoire seemed so heavy for these hot summer days, and you can only make so much slaw before you start craving something else. But when Patti included a recipe for grilled cabbage slaw in her weekly flyer, inspiration hit: why not play up that roasty grilled flavor even more with toasted Indian spices like cumin, coriander and turmeric? Though I was initially just going to toss the cabbage with the spices and a little oil, the nutty cabbage flavors just seemed to cry out for melted butter. And a little hit of lime juice at the end balanced out all those mellow flavors with just a touch of acid. Now I've got a cabbage dish that feels just right for hot weather, and that I won't be tiring of soon.
Grilled Cabbage with Butter and Indian Spices
Serves six as a side dish.
1 head green cabbage, outer leaves removed and quartered through core
4 small leeks, white and light green parts only
1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
1 tsp. whole coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. yellow or brown mustard seeds
8 black peppercorns
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
4 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
Lime wedges, for serving
Heat gas grill to medium-high heat. Brush the cabbage quarters and leeks on all sides with vegetable oil and sprinkle generously with salt. Grill the cabbage quarters and leeks, turning as necessary, until they have good grill marks on all sides (about 7 minutes for the leeks, 15 minutes for the cabbage). Remove the leeks from the grill and set aside; lower the heat to medium-low (or move the cabbage to a cooler zone of the grill) and continue grilling the cabbage, covered, until it's completely soft, about 20 minutes more.
Meanwhile, dry-toast the whole cumin, coriander, mustard seeds and peppercorns in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer the spices to a mortar and pestle and crush. Combine the crushed spices with turmeric and melted butter.
Chop the leeks coarsely. Cut the cores out of the cabbage quarters and then slice the quarters crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide ribbons. In a serving bowl, toss the cabbage and leeks with the spiced butter. Season to taste with salt and a squeeze of lime.