Herbed and charred cabbage salad with three cheeses and walnuts
The inspiration for this dish comes from the Californian chef, Matt Orlando, ex-head chef of the famed Noma in Copenhagen, and now owner of Amass, a restaurant with a philosophy of reducing waste to the absolute minimum. At Amass they never throw out the stale bread, they find a use for used coffee grinds and tea leaves, and green kitchen waste is fed to the chickens.
The dish which inspired this recipe was one put together to use what Orlando had in his fridge – I found the recipe in the wonderful compilation, Bread is Gold by Massimo Bottura. But a chef of Orlando’s standing never throws flavours together in a haphazard way. The dish works brilliantly, but I have amended it to make it quick and easy for ordinary mortals, doing away with ice cubes and blenders etc.
I have also added in walnuts – in my view they just finish off the dish. I like to think that it’s an addition chef Orlando would have made himself if he’d found some lurking, past their sell-by date in his larder.
This would go well with smoked ham.
Recipe for herbed and charred cabbage salad with three cheeses and walnuts
- 120g/1 cup walnuts
- 1 x head sweetheart cabbage – minimum weight 400g/14 oz
- 200-300g/7-10 oz green beans
- 125g/4 oz mozzarella
- 50g/2 oz pecorino shavings
- 125g/4 oz ricotta
- A few basil leaves
- A few mint leaves
- 80 ml/⅓ cup walnut oil
- 2 tbsps thick balsamic vinegar
- Olive oil for frying – about 60ml/¼ cup
- Salt (including some nice textured salt – eg Maldon) and freshly ground pepper
- Roughly chop and dry fry the walnuts in a largish frying pan (it needs to fit the cabbage later). Take out and set aside.
- Pour the olive oil into the pan and begin to get it hot.
- Cut the cabbage vertically into sixths through the core (if the core is thick, cut a bit of it out, but leave enough so that the cabbage stays together). Put the first cut side of all six pieces down and char it lightly (dark gold, not carbon!) – this will take about five minutes. Then turn and char the other sides.
- Meanwhile get a cup of water and a tablespoon of salt boiling.
- Top and tail the beans and cut them into bite-sized pieces (about 5cm/1” long). Add to the boiling water and boil for a maximum of five minutes. Run the cold tap until it’s cold, drain the beans and run under the cold tap to refresh.
- Drain the mozzarella and slice it. Shave off the pecorino if you haven’t already.
- Arrange the cabbage quarters on a platter. Scatter the beans and the mozzarella slices between.
- Make a rough dressing of the walnut oil, the ricotta, and the pepper. Dot over the cabbage.
- Scatter the walnuts and the pecorino shavings on top. Tear over the herbs.
- Drizzle over the balsamic vinegar.
- Scatter over the textured salt.