Talking of food made at home being cheaper, I agree with Mr. Bittman (I do encourage all of you to actually go and click that link, since it has a wealth of relevant information and also a lot of cool sites to visit).
Take a look at the above photograph. That costs less than 2$. And for a single diner, can last 2 days. For a family, definitely a day. Takes? less than 10 min (prep included). I am confused, how does anyone claim that come cooked food is expensive and/ or time consuming? I have to say, it is just a notion. One that can quickly go down the drain. But yes, we need those drains in place. I am happy to put my 5$ into it. Are you?
Talking of simple food that are delicious and colorful, I think the red cabbage is a bit unappreciated. There is something about the color, me thinks, that get cooks and eaters wary of it. I was too. So, I understand, if you feel that way. But when I go grocery shopping, I never end up buying any of the relevant stuff that I think I need. Instead I end up bringing home all kinds of stuff that happened to catch my fancy that day.
That is how I ended up with a head of red cabbage. And it stared it me every time I opened the refrigerator door. That went on for five days. On the sixth day, I decided to chop a good portion of it. And as the knife shredded the--rather tough, I would argue--layers of the cabbage, a simple recipe started formulating in my mind. All it needed was some green. To the refrigerator I go and the only green to be there was a bunch of watercress. Watercress and Red Cabbage .
If you think, that is the surest road to perdition (in other words, a disaster in the kitchen), try this recipe. Not only will you enjoy the walk down that road, you surely will want to go down that road quite a few times. To end the story of the red cabbage and the water cress, the next three days, I picked up these very two from the grocery (and these time I made sure to stay focused) and made the same recipe for dinner. On four consecutive days.
Now, if that does not at least make you willing to try this recipe, I am sure reading the recipe will do:)
Red Cabbage and Watercress Stir Fried Salad
One smallish head of red cabbage. A green cabbage would work as well. But try the color.
1 small onion. Sliced
Half a bunch of watercress. You can easily use some Arugula, Spinach.
1/2 tsp of whole mustard. This is really the key ingredient. You must try and find it.
4-5 curry leaves. You can substitute with some dill or even Thyme.
2-3 cloves of garlic. You can use ground and dried garlic powder too
1/4 tsp of sliced ginger. No substitutions, here
A heavy hand of red chilli flakes
2 tbsf olive oil. + 1/2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil for drizzling later on
Half a lime
Salt and pepper. I like freshly ground black pepper. But any would work
Some parsley or cilantro or coriander for garnish. You pick your herb. I like em' all.
In a skillet (that would hold all ingredients), heat the olive oil. When hot enough, add the mustard. Wait for a second and let the mustard sputter (that is when the mustard releases their intense flavors). Lower heat and add the onion, ginger, garlic and curry (or whatever you are using as a substitute). Adding herbs at this point infuses the recipe from 'within' and is a very Indian way of making quick stir fries. Saute for a couple of minutes. Add the coarsely sliced cabbage. Keep sauteing for additional 3-4 minutes. You can use higher heat setting if you feel the need. Add the chilli flakes and the greens. Mix around and wait for the greens to just wilt down. Season with salt and pepper. Whatever you do, leave the crunch alive. That is the second high point of the recipe (the first was the use of whole mustard).
Plate the dish, add a dash of lemon juice and a bit of extra virgin olive oil. To make it non vegetarian, you can add a couple of poached eggs on top. But the try the recipe without the egg. It is legit and worth it. Top off with parsley/cilantro.
A warm stir fried--South Indian inspired, even-- cabbage and watercress salad. Summer summer...
Happy eating and healthy living!