Have you ever eaten a meal that is so humble it takes you by surprise?
There are no big super foods here. No crazy punch of unusual or particularly bold seasoning. No exotic ingredient, rare or peculiar.
What we have here are the basics – potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage. Staples. Hearty, strong ingredients that have fed people for centuries. Nothing in this dish screams of specialness or excitement, but in my mind, that’s precisely what makes it so good. My first bites of this meal were taken with a lack of enthusiasm. I expected nourishment, but nothing to get worked up about. As I continued to eat it, though, working my way through my plate, then seconds, and then leftovers the next two days, I fell in love with this humble meal.
While I’ve called this dish simple, I don’t mean it as a slight. It’s a compliment. Hearty vegetables dressed up with aromatics and emboldened with a bit of peppery-heat make for a dish that feels like the best kind of old friend – familiar and warm, but still able to catch you by surprise.
Spicy Potatoes and Cabbage in Herby Tomatoes
Adapted from Vegetarian Times
- 1 small-medium head of green cabbage, shredded
- 2 lbs potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks
- 2 ½ tblspns tomato paste
- 1 tspn agave
- 1 tblspn olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 large bell pepper, chopped
- 1 tspn dried oregano
- ½ tspn ground cumin
- 5 small tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 1 jalapeno, minced
- 1 serrano pepper, minced (optional, depending on your heat preference/tolerance)
- 3 tblspns lime juice
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- Hearty sprinklings of salt and pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Submerge chopped cabbage in water and blanch for 5-6 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Return pot of water to stove and return to a boil. Add chopped potatoes and boil 5-7 minutes, until tender. Drain potatoes, reserving ¾ cup of the cooking water, and set aside.
- Add tomato paste and agave into reserved cooking water, stir to combine, and set aside.
- Warm oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. When warm, add onion, garlic, and bell pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes until vegetables soften.
- Add tomatoes, chiles, tomato paste/water mixture, oregano, and cumin to the pot. Continue to cook for 5-6 more minutes.
- Add cabbage and potatoes to the pot. Add a hearty sprinkling of salt and pepper, too. Stir to combine all ingredients and let cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, just to get everything combined and warmed back up.
- Turn off heat, add lime juice and cilantro, and stir to combine. Taste and add extra salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve over rice or quinoa, or with warm tortillas.