A recipe is a bit like a system. The whole is more than just the sum of its parts. All the ingredients (some more than others) bring something to the mix and contribute to the final result.
Except that when I started off with this recipe, I thought that rule didn’t apply in this case. I knew what the real star of the show was, and I wanted it to have its red carpet moment. I built up the recipe so that the humble red cabbage would shine. And not because I am particularly fond of red cabbage. I do like its raw, crunchy, pungent spiciness, but what really attracts me to red cabbage is its shape, its colour and its lines.
Years ago, when I was studying photography, I was asked to design and photograph a still-life based around the concept of symmetry. I brought a red cabbage to college, cut it in half, stuck a fork straight into it and took a photo of it from above. Since then, every time I think of red cabbage, I can’t help but think about photography.
So, when I started this blog, I knew I had the perfect excuse. This time it was not going to be red cabbage alone with a fork, but I still wanted it to be the most important ingredient. I chose rustic bread to carry the flavours, orange for its juices and its colour and poached egg to gently bring it all together.
But when I ate the first mouthful, I realised this was not unlike any other recipe. The sum of red cabbage, bread, orange and egg was more than just a way to enhance the humble cabbage. Every ingredient brought the other ones to life and complemented them through their respective differences. So, yes, the humble red cabbage did shine, but it made orange, egg and bread shine too.
(serves 2, with leftover cabbage)
half a red cabbage
1 orange, or blood orange
sliced bread of your choice (mine was a white ciabatta-style loaf)
extra-virgin olive oil and freshly ground pepper
Finely slice the cabbage, put the shreds in a bowl, salt them and leave to rest for about an hour. Doing this helps to soften the cabbage. Peel the orange and cut it into little chunks. Add them to the cabbage and mix.
Lightly toast the bread slices and arrange a good amount of cabbage and orange mixture on top of each slice.
Poach the eggs. I do it Smitten Kitchen style.
Arrange the eggs on top of your open sandwich, drizzle with oil and pepper and serve quickly.