Wednesday, 9 December 2009


More fun with cabbage, the super vegetable. As I wrote in a previous post, cabbage is very low in calories - 35 calories for one cup. It's a good source of protein, vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, calcium, and fiber. It contains nutrients with anti-cancer properties, something cabbage has in common with the other vegetables in the cruciferae family to which it belongs. "Cruciferous" plants are so named because they bear four petaled flowers, thus having blooms reminiscent of a crucifix. Some of the other vegetables in this family are: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprout, turnip, radish, rapeseed (from which canola oil is processed), watercress, etc, etc, all of them with nutrients similar to those of cabbage, and all of them good for you.

At home, we remember the cabbage dishes grandmother used to make. My mother's family were "Thrakiotes," ethnic Greeks who lived in Thrace, a province in South-Eastern Europe. After World War I, these Greeks, as well as the Greeks of Asia Minor, were relocated to the nation of Greece, in compliance with the Treaty of Lausanne. My relatives settled in Prosotsani, Macedonia, in Northern Greece. They were refugees among many other Greek refugees, all of whom had been persecuted, had lost their property, had family members massacred by the Turks. They settled in their new homeland with very few belongings, but my grandmother, Serafia, carried with her in her mind and in her heart her memories, her traditions, and since she liked to cook, her recipes. In their new homeland, my grandmother, and Kyriakos, my grandfather, started their family.

Thrakiotes are known for cooking dishes that contain cabbage or sauerkraut. Below is a recipe, good winter fare, that my grandmother used to make. Sometimes it would be served on its own, often it would accompany her roast chicken. I remember it in its serving platter in the middle of the table. I would be visiting in Prosotsani during the Christmas holiday. Yiayia, as all Greek children call their

Yiayia Serafia, shortly after arriving in Prosotsani, Greece.

grandmothers, had all ready called me several times to abandon my play and come in for dinner. When I finally made my entrance into the kitchen, my relatives would be sitting around the table eating. I would take my seat, and as I bit into my slice of bread my grandmother would fill my plate. How satisfied with warmth and happiness I am right now, thinking of my Thracian grandmother reigning in her kitchen!

Lahanorizo (cabbage and rice):
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 head of cabbage, shredded
1 lb canned tomatoes, chopped
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup rice
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste

  • In a dutch oven heat the olive oil and saute the onion and garlic until the onions are translucent.
  • Add the cabbage and continue to saute, stirring frequently until the cabbage softens, about three minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and chicken broth and and mix. Bring to a boil.
  • Add the rice, raisins, almonds, pine nuts, and salt and pepper. Stir, and simmer over low heat until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked. Make sure the rice does not dry out.
  • Place the rice in a serving bowl and toss, then serve.