This is one of my favorite Summer time dishes that my husband makes. The flavors can be modified in many ways. You can give it an Asian spin, African spices, or even Greek zip. Keep flavors bright and balanced, and you’re limited only by your imagination. The cabbage, onions, and pepper can be grilled ahead, and the salad can be assembled much faster when it is time to eat. This recipe will list the Mexican-style spices (which I like the best), but also list some other possibilities. Also, if you want to make it a one-pot meal, just add the protein of your choice!
- 1 large head of green cabbage
- 1 large sweet onion, red or yellow
- 1 large bell pepper, preferably red
- 4-6 1.5-inch tomatoes
- 1 big handful of cilantro, stems removed (or to taste)
- 1 avocado, cut into large dice
- Lemon juice and apple cider vinegar to taste (or lime juice; rice wine or red wine vinegar; etc.) to desired taste
- Olive oil to desired taste
- 1-2 cloves of garlic (minced)
- Herbs and spices: cumin, smoked paprika (or oregano, Italian seasoning, ginger, Chinese 5-spice, etc.) to desired flavor
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional: grilled chicken, shrimp or other protein of your choice
- Heat grill to med-high (or high, if you can watch it), and let it pre-heat for at least 10 minutes.
- Standing cabbage on its stem, slice it into 1-inch-thick disks (don't cut the stem out, as it will help hold things together on the grill). Using a large baking sheet, cutting board, whatever, liberally coat each side of the disks with oil.
- Cut your onion into 1/2-inch-thick disks, like you're making onion rings. Do not let the disks fall to pieces! Coat each side with oil, and stack with cabbage disks.
- Rub oil all over skin of bell pepper. Rub oil all over skins of tomatoes. Set pepper and tomatoes aside with cabbage and onion disks.
- Time to grill! Place cabbage and onion disks, pepper, and tomatoes on grill (see Notes, below!). The cabbage should take about 4-6 minutes per side, the onions 4-5 minutes per side. The cabbage and onions should get some nice grill marks and a little color (no crazy charring), and should be allowed to rest uncovered when they're done (or store, covered, in the fridge once they've cooled). The pepper should be turned occasionally, until all sides are blackened, but not bursting, taking anywhere from 10-15 minutes. Remove pepper when it's done, and wrap in plastic wrap to steam, or place in a covered bowl. The tomatoes should be turned occasionally, so they get some light grill marks, and the skins are still intact. Set aside to cool.
- We used grilled shrimp for our protein to make it a one-pot meal. The defrosted shrimp were shelled (just squeeze the shell off), oiled, and dusted with cumin and ground pepper. They were grilled over high heat for two minutes per side.
- Once everything is cool enough to handle, remove the cabbage stems and chop the cabbage into 1-inch pieces, and dump into a large mixing bowl. Chop the onion disks into smaller dice, and dump into mixing bowl. Peel and seed pepper (if grilled long enough, and if it sat long enough, the pepper should shed its skin easily), and chop into 1/2-inch pieces, or thin strips. Chop tomatoes into quarters or eighths, depending on how soft they are. Put pepper and tomatoes into the mixing bowl.
- Toss a large pinch of salt into the mixing bowl, and a couple of turns of pepper. Finely chop cilantro, reserve some for garnish, and dump the rest into the mixing bowl. Mince garlic and dump into mixing bowl, along with some cumin and smoked paprika (I use about 1 teaspoon of cumin, and about 1/2 teaspoon of paprika, but I like in-your-face spiciness). Drizzle in some olive oil and the juice of half of a large lemon (or two small limes), and a splash or two of apple cider vinegar. Gently mix everything, and taste. If you're like me, you'll want the juice of that other half of the lemon, as well as more spices. Keep tweaking and tasting, until it's just right.
- Add your cubed avocado once the flavors are balanced, and gently mix everything. Plate the salad, or transfer to an attractive serving bowl or platter. If you're adding protein, you can mix it right into the bowl, or layer on top of the plated salad for a nice presentation (see photo for shrimp). Garnish with cilantro, and a sauce for color, if you wish. We used chili-garlic sauce with the shrimp.
Here's a quick tip that might save you from some headaches: When placing the onion and cabbage disks on the grill, make sure you place them with their CONVEX sides facing down. When it's time to flip them, it's much easier to keep them together, especially if they soften a lot. If you place them with the concave side facing down, you'll be pulling up rings when you try and flip, regardless of whether you use a spatula or tongs. Rings of cabbage or onion grilling solo will burn much faster, so it's best to keep everything together; you want good grill marks and some color, not charred veggies. (When everything's done, the disks don't need to stay together, as you'll be chopping everything.)