Red Cabbage Braised with Apples, and Thinking Local

"Rich in antioxidants." A claim so ubiquitous that it even appears in the eye-filling foodie magazine, Edible New Jersey. Digressing briefly, this publication is one of a feast of choices from the Edible Communities, a group devoted to eating well and providing fascinating information about local foods and their producers. I find inspiring recipes on their website and in their local magazines.

Thinking local, and applying that to colorful foods rich with healthful antioxidants, I am drawn to the heaps of cabbages and the new crop of apples that are a bargain now at farmers’ markets and usually the supermarket, too.

Red cabbage can cost just a dollar or two a head. Apples, which go so nicely with cabbage, are often priced well, too. As the weather cools down, I think of combining them with more red foods such as cranberries, grapes and pomegranate. Try a crunchy cabbage and apple slaw studded with chopped fresh cranberries and raisins and tossed with a light dressing of lemon juice and walnut oil.

When there is a nip in the air, braising the cabbage with chunky, thick apple slices and dried cranberries, plus the warming flavors of cinnamon and clove, is another way I like to combine these red foods, though I confess to preferring a green Granny Smith apple to one of the red-skinned varieties. For the grapes and pomegranate flavors, I use red wine vinegar and tart-sweet pomegranate juice.

Even a small head of cabbage goes a long way, so I serve this as a bed under pork chops; then, a few days later, I pair it with wild rice and black beans for a meatless meal.

Pork Chops with Braised Red Cabbage, Apple and Cranberries - Makes 4 servings.

1 small red cabbage, about 1 lb., quartered and cored
1 Tbsp. canola oil
4 boneless lean center-cut pork chops, 4-ounces each
2 cups thinly sliced red onion
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 12 slices each
2/3 cup dried cranberries
¾ cup pomegranate juice
¼ cup red wine vinegar
Zest of ½ orange
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
Salt, to taste

Cut cabbage crosswise into 1/2-inch strips. There should be about 6 cups. Reserve any extra to use in salads or another use.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown pork chops on each side, about 1 minute, and remove from pan. Add onion to pan and cook until limp, 3 minutes. Add cabbage, apples and cranberries and cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is wilted, 4-5 minutes. Pour in juice and vinegar, and cook 3 minutes. Mix in zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and pepper. Add salt, to taste. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes, then add chops. Cook until cabbage is tender and pork registers 160 degrees F on meat thermometer, 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To serve, spread 5 cups of cabbage onto platter, and top with chops. If there is cabbage remaining, cool and refrigerate, covered, for up to 5 days.

Per serving: 410 calories, 12 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 51g carbohydrate, 28 g protein, 7 g dietary fiber, 105 mg sodium.

The Author:

AICR’s Nutrition Hotline is a free service that allows you to ask a registered dietitian questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. Access it online at www.aicr.org/hotline or by phone (1-800-843-8114) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday-Friday. AICR is the only major cancer charity focused exclusively on the link between diet, nutrition and cancer. It provides education programs that help Americans learn to make changes for lower cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research centers. It has provided more than $82 million for research in diet, nutrition and cancer. AICR’s Web address is www.aicr.org.

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