Cabbage, Fennel and Leeks, oh my!
This is my 12 year old nephew's absolute favorite vegetable dish in the whole world! At least that's what he told me while pushing forkful after forkful into his mouth last week. If you're not a big fennel fan, I would say try it anyway, but you could use a little more cabbage and a little less fennel. Fennel, by the way, is really good for digestion. Leftovers are terrific. I have spread them over seasoned haddock or cod, drizzled a little more lemon on them, poured some white wine over that and baked it, covered, for 30 minutes. My nephew likes this better than ice cream (OK, so he's a bit of an epicure). This recipe is adapted from Eating Well magazine.
I have a wok skillet and layer the vegetables with the cabbage closest to the heat to start. This keeps the leeks from over cooking and distributes the flavors. Also, if the vegetables are damp from washing, use a little less water in the skillet. With the lemon butter, use less butter and taste it, then add more if if you want a little less tang.
1 medium head of cabbage
2 medium fennel bulbs
3 small leeks, white parts only
1/2 C. water
5 to 6 Tbs. butter, unsalted is best
1/2 to 1 C. fresh parsley, chopped (the more, the better, for me)
1 tsp. salt
Quarter and trim the cabbage and fennel, then slice thinly. Thinly the leeks crosswise and rinse under running water. In a wide, fairly deep skillet, turn heat to medium high, add water and bring it to a simmer. Add cabbage, fennel and leeks in layers. Sprinkle with salt, cover skillet and reduce heat to low. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes, turning them once or twice to cook evenly. Add a bit more water, if necessary.
While the vegs are cooking, grate the zest from 1 of the lemons and reserve. Juice both lemons and and simmer juice in a small, preferably heavy, saucepan until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Don't let it burn. When it has reduced the flavor will be intensely lemony. Turn heat to very low and add butter and stir to melt. When vegetables are tender, pepper to taste, salt if using unsalted butter, and toss with lemon zest. Drizzle with lemon butter, sprinkle with parsley, toss and serve.