The humble cabbage deserves a moment in the spotlight. Cabbage is often overlooked as a vegetable. It shouldn’t be. It’s a culinary powerhouse, especially this time of year.
Cabbage adds sweetness to soup, crunch to dishes, and can star in side dishes prepared with few ingredients. It can be used as stuffing wrapper, as a scooper for ground meat, or cooked down until luscious and silky in a soup.
Go to any winter farmers market, and you’ll see tables overflowing with cabbage — from red to green to Savoy to Napa — with some varietals so large and picturesque, they make me think of the Cabbage Patch Kid logo or of Peter Rabbit stealing one from Mr. McGregor’s farm. Some area vendors selling beautiful cabbage right now include Crystal Organic Farm at the Morningside farmers market and Woodland Gardens at the Freedom farmers market.
Among varietals, I use green cabbage most often because of its versatility. Since it is so sweet, it can add deceiving richness to any dish, and it is incredibly filling. The cabbage soup diet was popular in the 1980s because people had good short-term success losing a few pounds due to the low calorie and high fiber content of this cruciferous vegetable, which makes the soup filling.
When I was a kid, TV cartoon shows portrayed cabbage as a bland and smelly vegetable with stink lines being plucked from a boiling pot by some witchy-looking character. So, you’d think getting children to eat cabbage would be hard. But the inherent sweetness and natural crunch appeals to them. I am still surprised every time I see my daughter grab a hunk of cabbage off my cutting board and walk away, snacking happily. So, like any mom, if my kid likes it, I use it a lot.
Although cabbage sometimes looks quite tasteless, the vegetable is surprisingly complex, with health benefits that include anti-inflammatory properties and high levels of vitamin C. That’s something we all need a little bit more of during cold and flu season.
There’s more to cabbage than just boiling it and serving it on the side with corned beef and potatoes. These recipes are kid-approved and come together in an hour or less, making them excellent weeknight dinner options. If you can’t find green cabbage, use any other firm variety. For best results, don’t use bok choy.
Pork sausage, potato, cabbage and carrot soup
I make this whenever I want a hearty soup for dinner that takes less than an hour to prepare. The mix of pork sausage and cabbage combine for an instantly complex, slightly sweet concoction. You can use soy crumbles or turkey sausage if you have dietary restrictions, but the pork sausage adds immediate depth to this quick soup.
I was inspired to make this slaw at home after eating it on fish tacos in Cabo San Lucas. This slaw can be used in a variety of applications: on tacos, as a side dish for barbecued meats, and as the base of a lunch bowl with black beans, tomatoes, hot sauce, and maybe some grilled chicken. I use store-bought avocado mayo, but you can easily substitute your favorite brand.
1 head green cabbage, julienned
3 limes, juiced
1 cup avocado mayonnaise or regular mayonnaise
1 bunch cilantro (leaves and stems), chopped
1 serrano chili, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
Mix all of the ingredients except the cabbage in a lidded container. Stir to combine. Add the cabbage and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate at least an hour prior to serving. The slaw will keep, refrigerated, 2-3 days. Serves 10.
Per serving: 176 calories (percent of calories from fat, 96), trace protein, 1 gram carbohydrates, trace fiber, 19 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 8 milligrams cholesterol, 340 milligrams sodium.
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