Of Cabbages and Kings

Of Cabbages and KingsNothing holds up to a winter spell quite like cabbage. Hearty and robust, this cruciferous vegetable looks like lettuce but has taste and health properties all of its own. Cabbage is rich in vitamin C and contains indole-3-carbinole, which researchers think may block the growth of cancer cells. Cabbage has a taste similar to broccoli and cauliflower—mineral, clean, hearty, and earthy. It is suited for raw and cooked uses, which makes it the ultimate in versatile vegetables. There are several different types of cabbage, all of which are delicious during the fall and winter months:

Napa cabbage: long, thin cabbage that is white and light green with curly leaves. Used to make kimchi and also raw in salads.

Savoy cabbage: round with a tight head and curly leaves, useful for stuffing or in soups.

Standard white or red cabbage: round with a tight head and waxy leaves, perfect for cooking or eating raw in slaws or salads.

Whichever cabbage you choose, be sure that it is a tightly packed head and that you remove the outermost leaves before eating. You may want to remove the core by slicing the cabbage in half, then slicing a triangle-shaped wedge in the root of the cabbage 1/3 of the way up the middle of the cabbage. This will remove the core, which is a bit toothsome for a slaw or soup, but is delicious to snack on with salad dressing. Now the only decision is what to do with your cabbage!

  • Try slicing it thinly and serving it in a classic coleslaw made with mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and a touch of sugar.
  • Chop it coarsely and throw it in mashed potatoes, letting heat and warm cream gently wilt the cabbage, bringing out its sweet and earthy flavors.
  • There’s the Irish dish Colcannon: take the leaves, blanch them, stuff with seasoned beef and rice, then bake in a sweet and sour tomato sauce to create an Eastern European-style stuffed cabbage.
  • Sauté chopped cabbage with leftover steamed rice, soy sauce, egg and Chinese sausage.

What can’t you do with cabbage? Well, you can’t get it so sweet and delicious year-round, so enjoy it while you can!