There is a restaurant in Sedona, Az. called The Heartline Cafe that Brian and I really enjoyed over the years. While living in the dessert we would annually make a trip up to Sedona during the holiday season. We would enjoy a touch of the cooler temperature, take in christmas light displays, treat ourselves to a great meal, and head back home. Sedona was a bit of a drive from where we lived (at least an hour and a half); but it was always well worth it. While eating our dinner this past Christmas Eve I kept thinking about the last time we were there. It was five years prior and I almost didn’t go. You see right after Thanksgiving that year my father ended up in the hospital. By the time Christmas rolled around he was still there. His health was touch and go for a while, we were all scared, and could not get into the holiday spirit in the least. I can remember looking at Brian and telling him we should cancel our plans and stay home, I was not in the mood for anything holiday related. But he insisted we make the trip. I can remember him expressing to me that I needed to do something other than worry about my family.
To be honest, I really don’t even remember the drive. I slept most of the way there and it felt good. I had not had a full nights sleep since before this whole ordeal with my father started. Once we were in Sedona we walked through a Christmas light display and being out in the cool air felt so good. We then headed over to the restaurant and had a wonderful meal. I can remember I had a deliciously warm and comforting red cabbage salad. It was out of the ordinary from what I normally would eat, and that is quite possibly why I remember it so well. It had crunch, nuts, and some delicious creamy goat cheese, it was a very well rounded salad if you ask me.
Fast forward to present day. My father is much better now thank you. As last Christmas passed, New Year’s went by, and I still had that warm cabbage salad on my mind - yes, five years later. Once Brian and I were back into our grove of normalcy last week, I stopped by the market to pick up a head of purple cabbage so I could recreate the salad in my memory. The result was just as good as I remembered. And might I add…What better on these winter evenings than a warm salad that still has crunch? Plus, it is so pretty on the plate with it’s deep hue that it will impress others you serve it to. Trust me, this salad is a memorable one.
Warm Cabbage Salad, with Hazelnuts, Goat Cheese, and Pears (serves 4 - 6)
***Note: when choosing a cabbage, be sure to pick one that is dense, crisp, and deep in huge. This salad will work fine with a green or red cabbage but I personally like the hue the purple cabbage lends to the dish.
1 medium head of purple cabbage; peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsp honey
sea salt to taste
fresh black pepper to taste
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skins rubbed off
2 oz fresh goat cheese
1 - 2 pears firm and crisp
First, place a large sauce pan over medium heat and warm through. Poor the vegetable oil in the pan and warm through. Add the cabbage to the pan and keep stirring and tossing until cabbage is slightly wilted but remains its crunchy texture.
Next, once cabbage is wilted slightly add the vinegar and honey and keep stirring and tossing until well coated. Season the cabbage with sea salt and black pepper to taste along with 1 tbsp of the thyme over it all. Stir it well.
Then, roughly chop the hazelnuts. add them to the cabbage mixture and toss it well. Slice your pears in half, removing the core, and slice them evenly. Break up or slice your goat cheese evenly, and set aside.
Finally, with cabbage still warm divid it among your plates. Arrange the pear slices along the side of the salads, place your goat cheese on top of your cabbage, and sprinkle each plate with the remainder of the thyme leaves. Serve while still warm.