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Of Cabbages and Kings

November 23, 2010

“The time has come,” the foodie said. “To talk of many things:

Of tempeh, kale, wholesome grains–

Of cabbages–and kings–

And why the broth is boiling hot–

And whether soy has wings.

Just as Jabberwocky follows no logical train of thought, the following recipes were not thought out. In fact, they are much less “recipes” than arrangements of seasonal ingredients from Wesleyan’s Fruit and Veggie Co-op (yes, yet another co-op. In addition to the Raw Milk Co-op, I’ve heard rumors that a Cheese Co-op is in the works…). I’m not signed up for the co-op,  I was lucky enough to be cooking in an actual house kitchen, and the sophomores I was cooking with had some kale and cabbage that needed to be taken off their hands….

And so came together a spontaneous seasonal meal vibrant and flavorful enough to make vegans of the world rejoice (I feel the need to repeat again that I am not a vegan; I just really enjoy soybeans). The kale was earthy but not bitter in the slightest, the red cabbage was sweet enough to eat raw, and everything came together in a savory soy ginger sauce with tender, caramelized onions.

Colorful Tempeh Stir-fry with Kale, Spinach, Cabbage and Caramelized Onions (Serves at least 4-5)


  • Two packages of tempeh, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • A head of napa cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 head– 1 head of red cabbage, shredded
  • As much spinach as you desire
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • a one-inch knob of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1-2 onions, slivered
  • Soy sauce
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Sesame oil if you feel like it
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions (all this is very self-explanatory and done completely to taste):

  • Heat olive oil in a wok or heavy skillet over medium-high heat
  • When oil is sizzling but not smoking, add onions and ginger. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Lower the heat and cook until the onions are getting translucent, then add the remaining ingredients except for the spinach.
  • Turn the heat back up and add soy sauce and vinegar.
  • Keep stir-frying, deglazing the pan with extra soy sauce, vinegar and/or water if the tempeh starts to stick.
  • Add the spinach and turn down the heat; cook until everything is wilted and the cabbage is tender (but don’t cook it to the point that the tempeh is falling apart)
  • Taste; add a little sesame oil if you feel like it.

As it turned out, we had an extra head of red cabbage, and plenty of mouths to feed. What to do? This menu may seem a bit redundant, but trust me, this cabbage was so good it didn’t matter. In fact, because this cabbage was so sweet, we undercooked it slightly, making it almost like a wilted coleslaw.

Hot Red Cabbage “Slaw” with Balsamic and Onions


  • 1/2 head- 1 head red cabbage
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions: Do I really have to say? It’s just the previous stir-fry with fewer ingredients and a shorter cooking time…. Sigh. If you insist.

  • Heat the oil, you know the drill.
  • Add onions, turn down the heat, let soften. Add salt and pepper
  • Add cabbage and balsamic, stir
  • Lower heat and cook until tender but still slightly crunchy.
  • Add additional seasonings to taste.

We were originally going to make use of the sweet potatoes in the corner of the kitchen, but as it turned out, we didn’t know who they belonged to. What grain could we make? Quinoa and rice took too long– how about some couscous? Couscous with tempeh? Why not? Healthy vegan food seems to become a sort of Pan-Ethnic cuisine in which any combination of seasoning works. That was how I ended up using my traditional method: couscous sprinkled with cinnamon and drizzled with a little olive oil.

Cinnamon couscous:

  • 1 box couscous (usually has about 4 cups dry)
  • Equal amount of water
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Cinnamon


  • Bring water, couscous, olive oil, and salt to a boil.
  • When water is boiling, turn off the heat and cover.
  • When the couscous has absorbed all the water, sprinkle with cinnamon and add extra olive oil/ salt if you want.

I love this mixed-up, completely bastardized Asian/Middle Eastern/ Hippie meal. I ate it with chopsticks and globs of my favorite Asian chili paste.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. FIZ permalink
    November 23, 2010 4:16 am

    Now, how about some yum yum turkey with all the fixings.

  2. November 23, 2010 8:21 am

    Everything looks so yummy! The red cabbage recipe looks really interesting and sounds flavourful 🙂

    • octopuscarwash permalink*
      November 23, 2010 5:17 pm

      You should try it out! It’s honestly not even a recipe.
      Your site looks amazing!

  3. November 23, 2010 8:13 pm

    What an inspiration you are! I shudder to think what passed for “cooking” in my dormitory! Please keep up your wildly creative ways.


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