Ingredient Spotlight: Cabbage

Cook, Ingredient Spotlight, Learn, Primers

Humble cabbage is experiencing a renaissance. The hearty veggie is at its best in these cold winter months, and it’s become a favorite ingredient in restaurant kitchens (see Chef Chris DiMinno’s roasted pork loin with cabbage). Here’s how to make the most of its flavor at home.

 

Varieties: Common green cabbage has smooth, pale green leaves, perfect for preserving, steaming and stuffing, or adding to soups and braises. Red cabbage is delicious raw in slaws and salads, or braised alongside meats. Napa cabbage is slightly elongated, with wrinkly, pale leaves — a staple of Asian cuisines.

 

Prep tips: First, discard any wilted outer leaves of a head of cabbage. Slice the head in half, then cut out a cone at the base of the core to remove it. If you’re shredding or slicing the cabbage, use a mandoline or food processor for quick prep. Red cabbage can turn a pale blue color when heated, so add a bit of vinegar or lemon juice to retain the vibrant red shade.

 

See some of our favorite ways to use cabbage:

 

Stuff It
Blanching cabbage leaves gives them a pliable texture, perfect for stuffing with savory ingredients. Try filling them with bacon, garlic and bread crumbs in this rustic Italian dish.
Shred It
When sliced thinly, cabbage becomes more tender and easily soaks up dressings. Creamy coleslaw is a classic, but try flavor variations like this Asian-inspired one, too.
Braise It
Cabbage’s hearty texture stands up well to simmering in sauces — and it soaks up the seasonings. Braise it with red wine and balsamic vinegar for a simple side dish.
Ferment It
Sauerkraut is touted for its many health benefits, but the flavor is enough of a selling point. Like spicy foods? Give kimchee a try.

 

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