Cabbage, although generally considered a cool- or cold-weather vegetable, is available year round, which makes it easy for you to pick up a head and put it on your menu, whether you're looking for an entree, a side dish, or just a snack. Each type of cabbage—red, green, savoy, bok choy among them—and even Brussels sprouts, offers a slightly different taste and texture, so don't be afraid to experiment.
Choosing Your Cabbage
When selecting cabbage at the store, look for heads with plenty of outer leaves, and check the bottom to make sure the leaves aren't pulling away from the stem. Your red or green cabbage should be tightly compacted, and when you lift it, it should feel heavier than it looks. For leafier types of cabbage, such as bok choy or napa, choose a cabbage that is green with firm stems.
Include herbs such as celery seed, mustard seed, nutmeg, savory, tarragon, garlic, caraway seed, dill weed, black pepper, and thyme when fixing your cabbage. Good companion vegetables include potatoes, leeks, onions, and carrots. It pairs beautifully with corned beef, bacon, and sausage.
Use red or purple cabbage leaves to hold side dishes or salads on the plate for an attractive and colorful accent. Cabbage heads can be hollowed out and used as serving containers for cold dips and spreads.
Red and purple cabbage heads make excellent centerpieces.
Cabbage Cooking Tips
Many cooks prefer to trim away the bitter white core of the cabbage before shredding or cooking. If you need the leaves whole to stuff, you'll find it easier to separate them if you core the cabbage and plunge it into boiling water for one minute.
Drain well, blot dry, and proceed to separate the leaves. Repeat as necessary the closer you get to the center of the cabbage.
For cooking purposes, you can steam, bake, braise, sautee, or stuff your cabbage. And who doesn't like sauerkraut? Mix it with cooked with pork, ham, or sausages to make the French version:choucroute. You can even cheat and eat your cabbage raw as a snack while you're cooking it.
As a general rule, allow 1/4 pound of cooked cabbage per serving. A medium head of cabbage is about 2 pounds. If you slice and dice your cabbage, 1 pound of the raw vegetable converts to 2 cups cooked.
Cabbage and Nutrition
While you won't necessarily find cabbage listed as a synonym for health food, perhaps you should. The vegetable is an excellent source of Vitamin C and Vitamin K, as well as magnesium, manganese, and folate. Cabbage also contains phytochemicals, which help protect against breast, colon, and prostate cancers and help reduce LDL or "bad cholesterol."
Because cabbage can contain pests hidden in the leaves, it's important to wash your cabbage before using it either raw or cooked. Run your cabbage under cool water before starting your favorite recipe, just to be on the safe side.