Leftover cabbage? Cover it with tomato sauce and pile it on oatmeal.

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Charred cabbage smothered in tomato sauce over oatmeal

Total time:40 minutes

Servings:4 to 6

Total time:40 minutes

Servings:4 to 6


A few weeks ago I wrote about a coleslaw that I like to make, and it was fun to read the comments. Most of the reactions were pretty positive, but human nature being what it is, I mean one that was… less so. It wasn’t really negative, but it was ostensibly critical.

The email didn’t take issue with the recipe itself, but the writer said they would never make the salad because of something they see in many recipes. He asked for a portion of a head of green cabbage and a portion of a head of red cabbage.

The statement was succinct: What do I do with the rest of that cabbage?

Food waste is an issue that always concerns me. I’ve written a lot about farmers, and I consider it a moral failing when I have to start something that went wrong on my watch. And food insecurity is a parallel issue that means a lot to me. So the email resonated.

But, honestly, that’s one of the reasons I always love having cabbage in my crisper. I found it to have a fairly forgiving margin of error when it comes to its lifespan.

Before delving into my personal practices, I looked for an official guideline on how long to keep cut vegetables in the fridge. I haven’t really found any.

The FDA has a general rule that leftovers can be safely stored for four days. When he goes into detail, he does not discuss fresh produce, but mainly meat, dairy and processed foods. Various sites I have found suggest that cut cabbage can be stored anywhere from two days to several weeks. Which didn’t sound like an answer either.

Whole cabbage is a cold storage crop, which means any head you buy at the grocery store was likely harvested weeks, if not months, earlier. How quickly is it likely to deteriorate once cut?

I spoke to Rachael Jackson, founder of EatOrToss.com and Washington Post contributor to food safety issues, who said she wasn’t aware of any official guidelines. She said that once you cut any vegetable it becomes more susceptible to spoilage and any number of variables (moisture levels, temperature, how it was cut) can influence the rate at which this happens.

So where are we?

Here’s my strategy: when you bring home a fresh cabbage, use it first for all raw preparations. Wrap it up and store it in the fridge, and if you want to use it raw again, do so within the next few days. After that, use it only in baked applications to kill any issues that may have developed in the meantime. (Experts say leftovers should reach a temperature of 165 degrees or come to a boil.) If you find it squishy, ​​smelly, or soggy — in other words, unappetizing — toss it (or, ideally, compost it).

When I received this reader email, I had already thought of a dish of tomato sauce over oatmeal and was considering ways to make it more hearty without the bacon grease that would traditionally be the base. That’s when I saw the leftover cabbage in my crisper and realized I could solve two problems at once by smothering the cabbage in a flavored tomato sauce with a tablespoon of smoked paprika. .

Then I added cabbage to my shopping list because I was out.

Charred cabbage smothered in tomato sauce over oatmeal

Feel free to add more cabbage to smother in the sauce; the recipe will accommodate up to double without increasing the amount of tomato. It’s a great way to use up extra cabbage and expand the dish to more servings.

Storage: Refrigerate cabbage for up to four days. Beans are best the day they are made, but can be refrigerated for up to four days. If they are too firm when reheated, add a little water or stock.

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  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 cup oatmeal (not quick or instant cooking)
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound green cabbage (½ medium head), thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 small red or yellow onion (4 ounces), thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated
  • One can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup store-bought no-salt-added vegetable broth or home made
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted, dairy or vegan butter
  • Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Slowly add the oatmeal, then ½ teaspoon salt and stir. Let the water return to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Partially cover and cook, stirring frequently and scraping up the bottom of the pan to avoid sticking, until thickened and tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering and just starting to smoke. Add the cabbage, arrange it in an even layer and cook without moving it until it begins to char, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir and leave more of the cabbage char, another 2-3 minutes. There should be blackened spots. Add the vinegar and toss to coat well. Transfer about 1 cup of cabbage to a plate and set aside. Push the rest of the cabbage to one side of the pan.

Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, paprika, broth and remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook until thick and fluffy, 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in butter to incorporate.

Divide the oatmeal into wide, shallow bowls, forming a well in the middle. Fill each well with the tomato sauce, then top each serving with some of the reserved cabbage. Season and serve hot.

Per serving (¾ cup oatmeal, just 1 cup tomato sauce), based on 6

Calories: 230; Total fat: 7 g; Saturated fat: 3g; Cholesterol: 10mg; Sodium: 617mg; Carbohydrates: 39g; Dietary fiber: 6g; Sugar: 10g; Protein: 6g

This analysis is an estimate based on the available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietitian or nutritionist.

From writer Jim Webster.

Tested by Jim Webster; questions by e-mail to [email protected].

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