Smoked Trout and Cabbage Salad

I’m really into cabbage. For a long time, cabbage conjured images in my mind of long winters in Eastern Europe, root cellars and hardscrabble farmers wearing woolen underclothes. Smoked trout had a similar connotation, so perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise they fit together so perfectly.

I changed my mind about cabbage when I started making Orangette’s simple red cabbage and Parmesan salad, which is so crisp and sweet and peppery and a little funky from the cheese. Who knew cabbage was so sweet? It must really take the mind off the itchy underthings.

My smoked trout revelation came at the hands of my friend Jessica, purveyor of all things good, who recommended Trader Joe’s canned smoked trout. This came at a time when I was looking to replace Rob’s mercury-heavy tuna melt habit with something slightly healthier. He has thus far rejected sardines, the superheroes of the sea, but loves smoked trout, so it has gone into our weekly meal rotation. I usually mix it with mayonnaise, lemon juice, pepper and fresh herbs and spread it on good toasted bread. He calls it “trout crostini,” which makes us both feel fancy.

But one day, making an Orangette-esque salad with a head of green cabbage, I decided to throw in a little smoked trout in place of the cheese, and ended up with this beguiling mix. It’s a little smoky, a little sweet, savory yet totally crunchy and refreshing. The leftovers were just as good the next day for lunch and I was sold. Those Eastern European farmers in my mind really have it going on.

Smoked Trout & Cabbage Salad

Yield: 4-6 servings

{ Ingredients }

1 small (or 1/2 large) cabbage
1 can oil-packed smoked trout
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

{ Directions }

Cut the cabbage into quarters and cut out the core. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, thinly slice the cabbage and place in a large bowl.

Remove the trout from the oil and add to the cabbage. Using a fork, mash the trout into flakes and mix into the cabbage. Add the olive oil, and lemon juice to taste. Season with salt and pepper.

Keeps well, though it will be its crunchiest the day it is assembled.