Cabbage is often the overlooked vegetable at the bottom of the produce bin. It’s the unwanted side dish to corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day, the obligatory accompaniment to your BBQ bash, and it’s synonymous with diet soup and … well, gas. It’s easy to brush it off as an unnecessary, boring vegetable, but it is much more than that.
This cruciferous vegetable is so versatile: It can be sautéed, braised, grilled, stuffed, fermented or even used as noodles in soup. Not only is it a steal at 99 cents per pound, but it’s also an unlikely nutrition powerhouse. It’s low in calories, a good source of fiber and packed full of antioxidants and vitamins K and C. It’s also been proved to help with digestion, reduce the risk of heart disease and regulate blood pressure.
Know The Four Types Of Cabbage
There are four main types of cabbage you should know about. Green cabbage is the most popular and widely used. Think of it as your basic white tee ― it works in any season and tastes great with anything. Its leaves are sturdy, crisp and peppery; it’s wonderful in coleslaws and salads, as well as sautéed or even grilled.
Red cabbage is the smaller cousin to green cabbage, with a magenta-like hue, and can be used interchangeably. Its leaves are sturdy, making it great for braising, roasting or pickling.
Savoy cabbage wins the award for prettiest. Its lacy leaves are tender and mild tasting, making it perfect for stuffed cabbage rolls or a replacement for tortillas on Taco Tuesday.
Napa cabbage, sometimes referred to as Chinese cabbage, is oblong in shape with frilly, light green leaves and a more subdued flavor. This type is traditionally used to make kimchi but also tastes great when thinly sliced and stir-fried.
Slice it into thick steaks or wedges and throw them on the grill the next time you’re having a cookout. The outer leaves get charred and crispy while the inner leaves become tender. Try making this Grilled Cabbage Caesar Salad or Grilled Cabbage Steaks with Bacon.
Works best with: red or green cabbage
A little olive oil, salt and pepper, and a hot oven transforms cabbage into a delicious, easy and low-carb side dish. Take it a step further by topping it with Parmesan cheese, walnuts and lemon with this recipe for Roasted Cabbage with Walnuts, Parmesan and Balsamic.
Works best with: savoy or green cabbage
Cabbage turns into a gut-healing superhero when it sits out to ferment. Making your own sauerkraut or kimchi is the perfect way to use up that leftover cabbage sitting in your fridge and takes only 10 minutes to come together. Try this turmeric sauerkraut in a salad or as a condiment for your sandwich. Or add easy vegan kimchi to fried rice for an added zing.
Works best with: napa cabbage
Braising is one of the most classic ways to prepare cabbage and one of the most delicious. All it takes is a little smoky bacon, sugar and vinegar to bring it to life. Give it a try with this German Braised Red Cabbage with Bacon and Dill recipe.
Works best with: red cabbage
When you think of cabbage rolls, no doubt you think about the traditional Eastern European version of ground beef and rice stuffed in delicate cabbage leaves and cooked in tomato sauce. But there are so many other directions to take it ― try these Asian Pork Cabbage Dumplings, Enchilada Cabbage Rolls or Lasagna Cabbage Roll-Ups.
Works best with: savoy cabbage
When in doubt, a fried vegetable is always the way to go. Shred cabbage and turn it into fritters with these Savory Cabbage Pancakes.
Works best with: green cabbage
Paleo and keto diets have helped cabbage regain its popularity by using it as a low-carb option for sandwiches and wraps. Check out these BLT Cabbage Wraps, Miso Mango Chicken Salad Cabbage Wraps, Breakfast Burritos or Napa Cabbage Wraps with Peanut Dipping Sauce.
Works best with: savoy or napa cabbage
Don’t be afraid to pick up a head of cabbage the next time you’re at the grocery store. You’ll be amazed at what you can create.