We aren’t harvesting much here in Vermont right now, but that’s ok because this month we pay homage to cabbage, a vegetable that will outlast most others in storage while keeping its flavor and bite.
What is Cabbage?
Cabbage became a staple vegetable in Europe during the Middle Ages because of its ability to store for long periods, the flavor only intensifying with time. There are multiple varieties of cabbage but they all have a relatively neutral flavor which lends itself well to a wide assortment of preparation techniques and dishes. While green cabbage can be steamed or stewed, red cabbage is frequently consumed raw in salads or slaws and Napa cabbage is customarily used to make kimchi, a traditional Korean side dish of fermented vegetables. The possibilities are endless!
How to Pick Out Cabbage
When picking out your cabbage, it is important to pick heads with firm and compact leaves. It should feel heavy for its size. The leaves should also be bright in color and be slightly shiny. Cabbage will keep for weeks in the refrigerator or much longer in the freezer when chopped, blanched for 2 minutes in boiling water, drained, and packed into air-tight containers or bags. Because of the firm texture of most cabbage types, it freezes and cans well.
Nutritional Benefits of Cabbage
There is more to cabbage than versatility and shelf-life. Cabbage is a good source of fiber, vitamin C and folic acid. It contains ample vitamin K as well as B vitamins and cancer-fighting compounds. It is an inexpensive and healthy food which makes it a great vegetable to include in the diet all year around.
What About the Aroma?
Among vegetables, cabbage doesn’t have the best reputation due in part to its somewhat pungent odor. It may help to know that the preparation techniques used can alleviate the cabbage of this dilemma. The “cabbage” smell will be greatly reduced with cooking, especially uncovered in a lot of water. If you are using raw cabbage, shred or cut it up first and then soak it in cold water. This helps keep the cabbage crisp as well.
Make a Cabbage Wrap!
A fun and healthy way to use cabbage in your cooking is as a “wrap.” Take lightly steamed or raw cabbage leaves and fill them with any cooked vegetables, grains, meat or other fillings. This works best with green, napa or Savoy cabbage. Or add chopped or shredded cabbage to a stir fry, soup or salad. For a super quick addition to any meal, simply cut a head of cabbage into wedges, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in the oven. This month’s recipe illustrates how cabbage can stand alone without any fuss in an easily prepared side dish. With only some onions, garlic and a few seasonings, the cabbage in this ‘sautéed cabbage delight’ shines when served alongside any protein for a quick and healthy meal
For more on cabbage including recipes and fun facts, check out the Vermont Harvest of the Month’s website.
Sautéed Cabbage Delight
- 1head of cabbage
- 1/2red onion
- 3garlic cloves
- 1/2tspred pepper flakes
- 1Tbspolive oil
- Chop cabbage, onion, and garlic.
- Sauté onion in olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Once it is soft, add garlic, then chopped cabbage and seasoning.
- Simmer on medium high heat rotating cabbage top to bottom in pan every few minutes.
- Cook for 10 minutes.