Sometimes my meal planning get a little weird. Take this salad for instance. We made it for lunch last Sunday. We had 3/4 of a head of red cabbage leftover in the fridge from our shrimp tostadas and I wanted to do something different with it. This seemed to fit the bill. I wanted something salad-like, but a little more filling than slaw and I didn't want to go out and buy a dozen ingredients in order to make an Asian chicken salad. So I poked around a bit online and this is what I came up with. We still had to go out to buy the pancetta because we don't typically keep it in the apartment but I didn't need to buy (and then chop) a ton of veggies. When we made this Saigon Chicken Salad for example, it took almost 30 minutes to prep and chop all of the ingredients. The green papaya alone took forever. The only things that required chopping here were the red cabbage itself and the pancetta, shallot, almonds and parsley. I considered that pretty easy. Granted, Alex did most of the chopping and prepping (although I did chop the cabbage) because I was doing work. But it looked fairly easy to put together. And it was tasty. I liked the combination of different flavors and textures. The sweetness of the currants and balsamic was a nice match for the crispy, salty, porky pancetta, the crunchy almonds and the crispness of the cabbage. It worked on a number of fun and interesting levels. One thing I will say - the leftover salad kind of creeped me out. I brought it into work on Tuesday and the dressing had turned gritty and strange. I had a few bites and tossed the rest. Don't let that deter you from making the salad in the first place, but don't plan on making extra salad for leftovers.
Recipe after the jump!
Red Cabbage Salad with Warm Pancetta-Balsamic Dressing
1/4 cup dried currants
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 cups thinly sliced red cabbage (from about 1/2 medium head)
1 3-ounce package thinly sliced pancetta (Italian bacon), finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup whole almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Place currants in small bowl. Heat vinegar in saucepan over medium heat until hot (do not boil). Pour vinegar over currants; let soak until currants soften, 15 to 20 minutes.
Place cabbage in large bowl; set aside. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium- high heat. Add pancetta; sauté until brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Add shallot to pancetta and drippings in skillet; sauté 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in currant- vinegar mixture and olive oil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Pour pancetta mixture over cabbage and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Add almonds and parsley; toss to blend.