A few months ago my brother-in-law visited and I made dinner for him. I don’t remember exactly what I made, but I do remember he was impressed that I’d made a meal with multiple parts on a weeknight. The meals he makes at home for his family, he noted, are generally one-pan affairs. I kind of shrugged it off as a nice compliment. It’s not every day that your brother-in-law visits from the other side of the country and my brother-in-law has a toddler, so presumably I have more time to make dinner than he does. I didn’t really think much more about it, until a few weeks ago.
I make dinner most nights of the week and usually it’s not a big deal. Early on in my home cooking adventures I fell pretty hard for the standard ideal that dinner requires a main and two sides. That’s how my mom cooked, even when she didn’t really have enough time to do it and the process was a burden. That’s how dinner looks at a restaurant, or on a sitcom, or in a magazine. But a few weeks ago I was stressed about having enough time and energy to make dinner on top of work, running, and just having time to myself. Standing in the kitchen, thinking about my brother-in-law’s offhand comment, it seemed completely ridiculous to hold myself to a picture perfect standard.
I generally like making dinner, and I want to keep liking it. Making myself crazy with self-imposed dinner requirements is not going to help. In the last few weeks I’ve tried to give myself permission to make more one dish dinners, or at least more things that only require one cooked component and minimal prepping to bring together the rest of the meal. This cabbage recipe meets that goal.
I discovered this way of making cabbage a few years ago (from here) and while I loved it, I usually loved it as a side dish. Stir fried cabbage could certainly be a part of dinner, but I wasn’t ready to commit to it as the main component. I aspire to be the kind of person that can happily serve a roasted vegetable with a fried egg or some cheese and call it dinner. But I’m not there yet.
There’s also the fact that if I were to plunk stir fried cabbage on the table as dinner, no matter how delicious the cabbage, I would have a lot of push-back. And I don’t think I’m alone in that – it’s a hard sell. Sandwiches though, are an easy sell. I stuffed mine with cucumber, tomato, and hummus before piling in the spicy cabbage. You could add pickles or some shredded rotisserie chicken, substitute some other spread for the hummus, or add some shredded carrots to the cabbage while it cooks. The bottom line is the same: one pan. Ten minutes of cooking. Dinner for two plus leftovers. I could get used to that.
- 1 tbs oil
- 1 head cabbage, core removed and thinly sliced
- 1-2 tbs hot sauce
- 3-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1-3 tsp kosher salt
- About 1 cup hummus
- 4 pita pockets
- Cucumber and tomato slices (optional)
- Hot sauce (optional)
- HEAT the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the cabbage and 1 tsp of salt and cover the pan for a few minutes until the cabbage has wilted down a bit. Remove the lid and stir.
- ADD the hot sauce and garlic to the cabbage and cook for another 5-8 minutes, until the cabbage is cooked through and may be browned in some spots. Taste and add any additional salt needed to season the cabbage.
- ASSEMBLE pitas by spreading some hummus inside the pocket, loading it up with cabbage, and then adding cucumber and tomato slices (if using) and drizzling with hot sauce. Or put all the components on the table and let people assemble their own pitas.
The panfried cabbage will keep for about 10 days in the fridge and is good just on its own, cold, hot, or served at room temperature.