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Red cabbage salad is based on a Waldorf

By J.M. Hirsch

Associated Press

For some reason, cabbage doesn't make my dinner table all that often anymore.

Not so many years ago when my vegetarian diet was somewhat stricter, cabbage was a frequent ingredient -- sometimes even a star.

I hadn't given cabbage much thought until this past weekend, when I noticed two gorgeous specimens of red cabbage at my farmers market. The size of softballs, they were bright, firm and fresh.

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They ended up coming home with me, though I had no real clue to what I would do with them. It seemed a shame to slather it in mayo for a slaw.

Online research didn't help much, either. Most recipes I found sounded delicious, but called for too much cooking. What I did discover was that common cabbage pairings include bleu cheese and walnuts. That got me thinking about salads along the lines of a Waldorf.

Crisp, thinly sliced fresh red cabbage would be perfectly balanced by pungent crumbles of bleu cheese. Lightly toasted walnuts would add a texture contrast, as well as a nutty flavor. For sweet undertones (and color), I added fresh corn kernels and seedless red grapes.

In the dressing, I wanted bite, something reminiscent of the vinegar in my pressed salads but nothing that would compete with the cheese. So I carried the bleu cheese into a basic vinaigrette.

The result is a refreshing and attractive use of red cabbage.

Red cabbage salad

(Preparation 20 minutes)

1 cup walnut pieces

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1 fresh ear of corn (or about 1 cup kernels)

1 small head red cabbage

2 medium radishes, cut into thin rounds, then into slivers

1 cup seedless red grapes

1/2 medium red onion, cut into thin rounds, then half moons

6 ounces bleu cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

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1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat a dry heavy skillet over a medium flame. Add the walnuts and toast, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the nuts from the skillet and set aside to cool.

Stand the ear of corn on its wide end. Using a serrated knife, cut the kernels from the cob by moving the blade down the length of the corn in a sawing motion. Discard cob and set kernels aside.

Remove any dry or tough outer leaves from the cabbage. Trim the bottom off the cabbage and use a paring knife to cut out the core. Stand the cabbage on its flat end and cut it in half down the center.

Set each half down on its cut face, then cut the cabbage into thin strips. Arrange a quarter of the cabbage strips on each serving plate. Top each plate with walnuts, corn, radish slivers, grapes and onions.

Using 1/2 cup of the crumbled bleu cheese, sprinkle some over each salad.

To make the dressing, combine olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and remaining 1/4 cup bleu cheese in a blender and pulse until mostly smooth. Dress the salads liberally. Makes 4 servings.

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