When we don’t have vegetables coming out of the garden that I can work with, I generally buy quite a bit of produce every week. There are the typical onions, garlic, and carrots for flavoring and making soups. There are salad vegetables and cooking greens for their deep nutritional profile.
And then there is the lowly cabbage. It may not seem like much but that head of cabbage can transform grain-free eating from ordinary to extraordinary. It can become the base of a salad. It translates into a host of flavored fermented vegetables.
In short, it’s the weekly hero in our kitchen and here’s why.
Cabbage is almost always one of the most inexpensive vegetables at the produce stand. While it is easy to pass up when considering its more popular cousins, broccoli and kale, it packs its own nutritional punch. High in vitamin C and many of those phytochemical and other compounds the brassica family is known for, cabbage deserves its own place at the table.
The Unsung Grain-Free Hero
Grain-free eating can get monotonous, if we’re not careful. The protein, the sweet potato, the green vegetable; this combination can dominate meal after meal. Not only does that side dish heavy way of eating seem boring to some, it also creates more clean up than the one pan comfort dishes we are accustomed to eating.
That is where cabbage comes in. It becomes the base for Cabbage Bolognese, a one pan dish in which the cabbage mimics noodles. It creates a base for pizza sauce and toppings in this Pizza Cabbage dish. Sautéed cabbage can also become the base for a stir-fry or your favorite sauce. Large wedges of cabbage can be placed under a whole chicken and will infuse with the flavor of the chicken drippings as it roasts away in the oven.
A Bevy of Fermented Cabbages
Cabbage is the basis for that most infamous of vegetable ferments, sauerkraut. Sauerkraut in and of itself, with no more than salt and cabbage, can be a delicious accompaniment to a meal. But there is so much more that can be accomplished with this vegetable, if desired.
Cortido is one of our family’s favorite vegetable ferments, perfect as a topping for tacos, beans, or a big Taco Salad. It is simply cabbage combined with onions, Mexican oregano, and carrots.
Southwestern Kraut is the cabbage-based answer to salsa. Rich with the flavors of cilantro, cumin and garlic, this tangy condiment can be used on burritos or other Tex-Mex favorites.
Kimchi can be made with vegetables such as cucumber and zucchini, so why not the humble head of green cabbage? Combine cabbage shreds with ginger, garlic, green onions, chilies, and salt for a simple, flavorful addition to any meal.
When salad greens aren’t abundant in our garden, I like to make different slaws. Combining a head of shredded cabbage with cilantro, chili, and lime create a crunchy taco topping. Adding minced ginger, garlic, and sesame oil creates Asian flare. Fresh oregano and parsley along with red wine vinegar and good olive oil goes well with your Italian feast.
From Humble to Delicious
Cabbage can also be transformed into one of the most delicious of side dishes. A simple buttered cabbage is a delicious way to serve it up. Or, try this braised cabbage dish with a bit of red pepper and balsamic vinegar for something extraordinary to serve alongside your next roast chicken. Of course fried bacon and onions make cabbage, and just about anything, taste amazing too.
As you can imagine I pick up 2-3 heads of cabbage a week and these ideas keep us eating it almost daily. Prepared in a variety of ways, our family has yet to tire of this most humble of vegetables.