This long run of wintry weather demands drastic action. So I warm up the kitchen by cooking something real. I want a big pot full of hearty food I can eat, guilt-free. I want some nutrition in there, and I want comfort.
I want to do enough work to feel like I've made something from scratch, but I don't want it to take forever.
My peasant roots call me back to the basics . . . potatoes, cabbage, sausage, apples and onions. These are things I often have in my fridge in winter.
In fact, the first time I made this, I was just rooting around to see what was in there. I peeled and chopped and diced and sliced and something delicious happened.
Kielbasa and cabbage
2-3 teaspoons cooking fat (butter, margarine or oil) or cooking spray
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium head of cabbage, shredded
2 red Delicious apples, cored and thinly sliced
2 16-ounce cans whole small potatoes
1 teaspoon granular beef bouillon
2 teaspoons fennel seed
1 pound reduced fat kielbasa (Polish sausage)
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
fTC freshly ground pepper
In a large, non-stick Dutch Oven with a lid, melt fat over medium heat, then stir in the chopped onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is pale yellow and soft. Turn downheat to low. Leave onion in the bottom of the pan where it will begin to brown and turn very sweet. Pile the shredded cabbage on top. Sprinkle with beef bouillon. Add the sliced apples, fennel seed and pepper. Cut the kielbasa into six pieces. Slit each piece about 1/3 through. Place on top of the apples. Add the canned potatoes and water. Cover. Turn the heat up to high until the water begins to boil, then reduce heat to simmer. After about 5 minutes, stir the pot until all the items are evenly mixed. Continue cooking until the cabbage is tender crisp and all other ingredients are hot.
The dish is especially nice because the onions and apples are both sweet, a nice contrast to the cabbage. Nutritionally, this is a pretty low-fat way to indulge in sausage. (It's the Food Guide Pyramid in a pot.)
Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center and Vanderhorst & Associates in Baltimore.