There’s a story behind this week’s Meatless Monday recipe for Lombarda. Some friends of ours told us about a restaurant located in a town about 15 minutes by train from Valladolid. We were promised generous portions, the best ribs we’ve ever had and a delicious dessert, all for 9 euros each. We decided to take the trip out, bought tickets and set out on our grand adventure.
The town, Viana de Cega, turned out to be a little village of about 2000 people with the restaurant located across town– a 20 minute walk. Not surprisingly, there were many people enjoying a meal. As is common in Europe, restaurants offer a Menu del Dia for a fixed price. You select from the offerings for a first and second course and dessert. They usually provide bread and wine as well.
I saw lombarda listed for a first course and asked the waitress what it was. When she told me it was cabbage, I ordered it. She brought a huge plate loaded with red cabbage. It was sweet and tangy and had a hint of red pepper heat. I could easily have eaten the entire plate but stopped because we had two more courses to eat! For dessert I had an amazing cheesecake and Rick had flan along with some coffee and cognac. We waddled back to the train station with about 10 minutes to spare.
While researching the recipe I learned that lombarda is not the name of the dish, but rather what they call red cabbage. The cabbage is cooked until tender, then mixed into a pan full of caramelized onions and diced apples. Here’s how to make it:
- 4 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced (half a cabbage with the outer leaves and stems removed)
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 - 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (optional)
- 2 medium apples, peeled and diced (choose apples that hold up well when heated)
- a splash of vinegar (apple cider, white or red wine vinegar)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- Put the cabbage in a large saucepan or dutch oven and cover it with water.
- Add a splash of vinegar.
- Bring to a heavy simmer and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, caramelize the onions and garlic in a couple tablespoons of olive oil seasoned with a pinch of red pepper flakes in your largest skillet.
- Add the apples to the skillet when the onions have changed color and have softened.
- When the onions are caramelized and the cabbage and apples are tender, use a slotted spoon to transfer the cabbage to the skillet with the onions.
- Stir well to combine and cook off any excess liquid.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
The version of lombarda is called lombarda a la madrileña, adapted from this recipe. You could add a handful of nuts if you like. The next time I make this (and it will happen soon) I’ll add more apples.
ON TO THE PARTY!
Meatless Mondays was created to inspire people to go without meat one day a week. Click here to read more about it on their website. To that end, I’ve teamed up with Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures and Mary from Mary’s Kitchen to bring you a month long link party dedicated to Meatless Monday offerings. We hope you find something you and your family will love. If you have a meatless recipe you’d like to share, please link up.