Wednesday, 17 October 2012

A starring role for cabbage

I first came across Ribollita at the Chappel beer festival on the wonderful vegetarian food stall run by Leon Lewis.  I was boracic as usual so went for the cheapest thing on the stall, despite the fact that a stew with bread and cabbage didn't sound particularly appetising.  As you might expect from an Italian recipe it was, of course, delicious.  It is a real Italian peasant dish, economical, nutritious and really tasty.

After enjoying this stew three years running at the same festival I eventually begged Leon for the recipe, which is adapted from the Greek stew in his book More Vegetarian Dinner Parties published by Free Range publishing, and I would recommend you get hold of a copy.  Inevitably the recipe below has been fiddled about with over the time I've been making it, so go back to Leon's version in the book for a faithful reproduction of the tasty beer sponge I first enjoyed several years ago.

Half eaten: I waded right in, forgetting I was supposed to take a picture to show you first. 
The amounts indicated below should feed three to four, although we demolished it between the two of us this evening.

About four tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
200ml white wine or vegetable stock
1 carrot, chopped into about 1cm chunks and lightly cooked (I usually nuke it in the microwave)
200g cabbage, cut into smallish strips
1 tin of tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
A slice or two of stale bread torn into pieces
A tin of cannelini beans
A bunch each of parsley and basil, roughly chopped
A slug of fresh orange juice (it should be bitter orange, but I can't lay my hands on them unless it's January and I've found decent unsweetened stuff is fine)
Pepper and salt

To serve: grated parmesan and a drizzle of tasty olive oil

  1. Start by frying the onion slowly in the olive oil until it's soft and translucent; this usually takes ten minutes or so; add the garlic for the last few minutes.  While this is cooking you might want to cook the carrot.
  2. Add in the cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, cannelini beans, the wine or stock, and the bread.
  3. Allow this to cook for a while then finally add the parsley, basil and the orange juice.
  4. Season well and serve in bowls - it's quite sloppy, offering the parmesan and olive oil for people to help themselves.
I first served this at a New Year's eve party and it disappeared gratifyingly quickly - albeit mostly before breakfast on New Year's day, accompanied by Bloody Marys!

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