Natural Messages – Kasha-Cabbage Casserole

(If you are not acquainted with kasha, please follow the link to an earlier post: ).

This is the sort of vegetarian recipe that gives vegetarian recipes a bad name. It has such peculiarities – as if it had come straight out of someone’s kitchen recipe box and made it onto a card, only cursorily tested and unmodified. The first problem I discovered when I cooked it, is that you are mixing kasha (which is best eaten with a spoon), with shredded cabbage (best eaten with a fork). Something is going to fall off of your spoon or your fork as you eat. It has an idiosyncratic mix of spices and herbs: savory, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, celery seed, and caraway seed. And speaking of idiosyncratic, it offers the choice of sautéing the onions using butter, margarine, or sesame oil. The celery seed and caraway seed were also an issue. One teaspoon each, in a recipe intended to be eaten by 4 to 6 people? It was just too much. And despite the seasonings, it is good, but it is pretty bland. (But if you really, really love kasha, and really, really love cabbage, this could be the recipe for you!)

In the future, I will be sure to chop rather than shred the cabbage. I will use a clove of fresh garlic rather than garlic powder, and ¼ tsp. black pepper instead of the pinch of cayenne. And I will cook those onions in nothing but butter! But here follows the recipe, in all its building-the-Vegetarian-New-Jerusalem and making-it-up-from-scratch 1970s glory.

Kasha-Cabbage Casserole
The earthy rich flavors of kasha and cabbage complement each other perfectly in this quick and easy, hearty dish.

3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown kasha (buckwheat)
½ medium head cabbage
1 ½ teaspoon savory
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
a pinch of cayenne (to taste)
3 tablespoons sesame oil, butter, or margarine
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon caraway seed

Cut core from cabbage and shred to about ¼ inch thickness. Bring salted water to a boil, add, kasha, cabbage, and next three seasonings. Let come to a boil again, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring gently from time to time. Note the time. Heat oil or butter in a small pan on medium heat, then fry onion with a pinch of salt for 3 to 5 min. until golden. Add seeds and stir about a half minute more, then had to caution and cabbage. When kasha has simmered for 15 min. or so, check to see that cabbage is done, then remove from heat. Nice served with a little yogurt or sour cream (or a mixture of the two) on the side. Makes 4 to 6 servings. This hearty vegetarian main dish (or side dish in a non-vegetarian meal) makes a nice meal of soup, bread, and salad.

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