How do you name a recipe? Does “polenta” by any other name (“mush,” for example) taste as sweet? As our incontestable authority on naming, Anne Shirley, said, “I’ve never been able to believe it.”
Of course it matters what a dish is called!
That’s why my sister has insisted on calling one of her specialties “Soupe au Fromage” instead of “Cheeseburger Soup” (the unappetizing title on her recipe). This is also why it’s so painful when my dad obnoxiously pronounces soufflé “sow-ful.” And it’s why dishes like Jambalaya, Minestrone, Tapioca and Tamales are always so appealing when planning a menu.
When I made this Mediterranean dish for the first time, I loved it instantly. I knew I would make it again and again — but there was a problem (or five). The book I’d adapted it from titled the recipe “Braised Cabbage with Red Beans and Rice.”
Problem 1) That’s a mouthful (no pun intended).
Problem 2) It’s a list. Boring.
Problem 3) This name describes the process — not so much the final, delicious dish (it’s almost like risotto, not just accompanied by rice and beans, as if they were an afterthought).
Problem 4) Red beans, in my recent experience, are disappointing. I prefer black beans.
Problem 5) I loved the dish so much, it simply had to have a special name.
So, I started giving the recipe away. After all, if food is better when shared, then surely it’s more fun to name a dish together, too.
I gave it to my grandma, who has now made the dish more often than I have. (By giving the recipe to her without an official name, however, I may have inadvertently christened it “Jenni’s cabbage dish,” as she calls it now.)
I gave the recipe to my sister, with whom I want to share every kind of food and fun.
And now I’m giving it to you. If you care to weigh in before this poor, nameless recipe gets its title, fire away! I need help from others who love this dish as much as I do. Here are some ideas in the running:
Clearly, this is what you name a super cabbage recipe when you don’t know what to call it. There’s another advantage: this name can be modified to “Supercalifragikale” and “Supercalifragichard” to fit other greens, which you can use the same way.
This dish is full of things you’re likely to find in a cellar: onions, carrots, cabbage, beans… And in case you haven’t heard, “Cellar Door” is supposed to have the most beautiful ring of any English phrase.
Because of the cabbage, of course. This name is especially fitting if you use beets, too.
Whatever you call it, this dish is humble. It’s something you could eat in a dim, quiet monastery — but it’s also one of the tastiest things ever! And if you use red cabbage, the whole dish turns a quirky, cheerful purple.
And without further ado, here it is:
The Cabbage Dish
Saute chopped onion and carrot in a stock pot, along with any other firm vegetables you like (beets, peppers, rutabaga…). Add one medium cabbage, shredded, and 1 C broth.
Cover and cook over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring a few times.
Add 2 C rice, 1 t salt and 4 C broth. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover and simmer until rice is tender.
Stir in 4 C cooked beans and any quick-cooking vegetables you like (peas look great with red cabbage). Add salt, pepper and vinegar to taste. (Black, white and red pepper are all great.)
That’s it! Pretty simple for such a heavenly meal.