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What’s in Season Now: Cabbage
An Irish proverb says, there’s no use boiling your cabbage twice. While the adage may be useful, I don’t think the metaphor does cabbage any favors. Let’s move away from the memory of that over-boiled brassica; Cabbage is full of taste, texture and health benefits and deserves a fresh look.
There are several popular types of cabbage: green, red, Napa and Savoy. The color of the green cabbage ranges from pale to dark green. Red cabbage often appears purple on the outside. Both red and green are similar in taste and texture; strong, hardy and crunchy. Their wide, sturdy leaves are perfect for stuffing. The Napa variety has an elongated shape, unlike the round shape of the other cabbages. Napa is often called Chinese cabbage, as it was originally cultivated near Bejing. Its leaves are crinkly and dark green and its taste is sweeter and milder than that of red and green cabbage. Savoy cabbage also has textured leaves like Napa, but it’s round like the red and green varieties. Savoy also has a delicate taste and texture and works well in salads or as a delicate dumpling filling.
Cabbage, and its effects on cancer prevention, have been studied extensively. Thanks to its richness in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and glucosinolates, it is noted as one of the most important vegetables you can eat to reduce your risk of getting certain types of cancer, including; bladder, breast, colon and prostate. Steam your cabbage and you’ll also benefit from its powerful cholesterol-lowering properties. Cabbage is a rich source of vitamins C and K. Get the most health benefits by steaming or lightly cooking cabbage, or eating it raw.
Purchasing and Storing
Cabbage is a cool-season crop, even though you may find it year-round in the grocery store. In the northeast, we find it locally from June through October. When buying, choose fresh, compact, firm heads. Cabbage can be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for about two weeks. Savoy and Napa store best for about one week. Store partial heads of cabbage tightly covered with plastic wrap.
- Add sliced, raw leaves to salads
- Lightly boil cabbage leaves then stuff with rice and lentils, then place in a casserole dish, cover with tomato sauce and bake
- Thinly slice, then add to a veggie stir-fry, and serve with rice or noodles
- Sauté sliced cabbage with apples, onions and fresh ginger
- Add sliced cabbage to miso soup
- In the cooler months, Stuffed Cabbage is a perfect way to eat it.
- In the warmer months, use it to make coleslaw. Here are two versions to try; Simple Sweet and Tangy Coleslaw and Easy Creamy Coleslaw. A Latin American version of coleslaw is called Curtido will make your lips pucker.
(Image Credit: bcfreshvegetables.com)