Cabbage is in season! Cabbage is sturdy, abundant, inexpensive, plus it's tasty, and a nutritional powerhouse. Do you like cabbage? Have you ever eaten cabbage in anything but cole slaw? If you're ambivalent about it, I urge you to give cabbage another shot.
There are three main types of cabbage: green, red and Savoy. Both green and red cabbage have smooth-textured leaves. Savoy cabbage leaves are more ruffled and yellowish-green (that's it in the photo above). Red and green cabbage have a more defined taste and a crunchy texture, whereas Savoy's is more delicate. Savoy is my favorite.
What should you look for in a cabbage? Choose cabbage that's firm and dense with shiny, crisp, colorful leaves without cracks, bruises and blemishes. There should be only a few outer loose leaves attached to the stem. You should also know that pre-cut cabbage, either halved or shredded, loses its valuable vitamin C content.
When you get home, keep your cabbage cold: this helps keep it fresh and retain its nutrients. Put the whole head in a plastic bag in the crisper of your fridge. Red and green cabbage will keep this way for about 2 weeks, Savoy will keep for about 1 week.
Here are three of my favorite ways to prepare cabbage - two involve curry powder, but each has a completely different taste. Each of these recipes was originally intended as a side dish, but I eat each of them as a main course often. Give them a try, and feel free to post your own in the comments.
Curried Cabbage1 T Extra-virgin olive oil 1 1/2 t. Curry powder 1 Medium onion, thinly sliced 4 c. Shredded cabbage (about 3/4 pound) Juice of 1 lime 2 T. Non-fat plain Greek yogurt Kosher salt to taste
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the curry powder and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the onion and cook until it's translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add the cabbage and cook, stirring frequently, until the cabbage is wilted and soft to the bite, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice and yogurt. Salt to taste.
Serves 4. Chickpeas are a great addition for added protein and fiber, as are chunks of well-pressed extra-firm tofu. If adding tofu, I'd saute that in the oil/curry powder mixture 'til it's crispy, then remove it from the pan before adding the onions, etc. You might need a touch more oil in this case because the tofu will sop up your initial oil. Adapted from Eating Well Magazine.
Curried Red Cabbage Slaw1/2 Red Cabbage, thinly sliced 1 Red Bell Pepper, thinly sliced or chopped 1/2 Red Onion, chopped 4 T. Cider vinegar 2 T. Sugar or to taste (the original recipe calls for 4 T.) 1 c. Plain non-fat Greek yogurt 1/2 t. Curry powder 2-3 Handfuls of raisins Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Combine the cabbage, bell pepper and onion in bowl and toss to mix. In a small pan, combine the vinegar and sugar and heat to dissolve the sugar; pour over the vegetables and leave to cool slightly. Combine yogurt and curry powder and mix this into the cabbage mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in raisins. Chill. Just before serving, pour off any accumulated liquid and briefly stir the slaw again.
Serves 4. Adapted from The Half Hour Cook by Jenni Fleetwood.
Sauteed Savoy Cabbage With Walnuts1/2 Head of Savoy cabbage, shredded 2 T. Extra-virgin olive oil 1/3 c. Walnuts, roughly chopped Small amount of low-sodium chicken broth Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the cabbage and saute, stirring frequently, until soft to the bite. If the cabbage starts to brown and/or the pan starts to get too dry, lower the heat and add approximately 1-2 T. of chicken broth. Remove from heat, stir in walnuts and salt and pepper to taste. Serves 2 but is easily doubled. Adapted from a recipe by Ina Garten.