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What Is Cabbage?
Cabbage or headed cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable that is leafy green, red, or white in appearance and known for its densely formed heads. While it bears a close resemblance to lettuce, it actually belongs to the Brassica genus of vegetables, which include broccoli, cauliflower, and kale.
The 4 Varieties of Cabbage
- Green Cabbage. Green cabbage has smooth green leaves and is the most widely used for cabbage recipes. It is versatile and can be used throughout the seasons in salads, slaw, and stir-fries.
- Savoy Cabbage. Savoy cabbage has ruffled, lacy leaves that are more tender and mild-tasting than other cabbages. The leaves are loosely formed, work well in wraps, and makes a great substitution for tortillas when making tacos.
- Red Cabbage. Vivid magenta in color, red cabbage is smaller in size compared to green cabbage. It has thick, sturdy leaves that make it ideal for holding up to braising, pickling, and sautéing.
- Napa Cabbage. Nabba cabbage, also called Chinese cabbage, is longer in shape and looks similar to Romaine lettuce. It has a mild flavor and is used for kimchi, salads, and stir-fries.
How to Select the Best Head of Cabbage
When picking out a head of cabbage, make sure to pick ones that are bright in color and heavy, with leaves that are packed tightly. Make sure to discard any wilted outer leaves. For firmer cabbages, such as the red or white ones, you may want to trim out the tough part of the stem or core first.
How to Blanch Cabbage
To blanch cabbage, bring a few inches of water to a boil in a stockpot on the stovetop over high heat; reduce to a simmer. Using tongs, dip cabbage leaves in water for 30 seconds to blanch. Place on a paper towel-lined baking sheet to dry. Learn more about blanching in our comprehensive guide here.
11 Cabbage Recipe Ideas
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- Coleslaw: A creamy, crunchy classic coleslaw made with thinly sliced green and red cabbage, julienned carrots and mayonnaise-vinegar dressing. This makes a perfect side to southern dishes like fried chicken, barbecued ribs, and cornbread.
- Sauerkraut: Sauerkraut is a side dish of finely shredded raw cabbage, fermented through lactic acid bacteria which gives it its signature sour flavor. Occasionally studded with fragrant caraway seeds, sauerkraut has a long shelf life due to that fermentation; it will last for months when kept in a cool, dry place like a cellar, and even longer if kept in the fridge.
- Kimchi: Kimchi is a Korean side dish made from salted, seasoned, and fermented veggies—most commonly Napa cabbage with radishes, green onions, and gochugaru, or red pepper flakes.
- Stuffed cabbage rolls: Savoy cabbage leaves are blanched then stuffed with a mixture of beef, egg, onion, breadcrumbs, and rice. Prepared rolls are baked off in a casserole dish and served hot.
- Korean beef wraps: Sautéed ground beef with slaw, tossed in Asian chili sauce. Raw leaves of napa cabbage are used to scoop up the beef mixture and enjoyed as low-carb wraps.
- Fish tacos: The secret to lightening your tacos and give them a refreshing crunch is to swap out tortillas for savoy cabbage. Dredge your fish in panko crumbs and bake them off in the oven instead of frying. Serve with yogurt, avocado, and limes.
- Asian salad: A colorful Asian-inspired salad with shredded red cabbage, julienned carrots, scallion, shrimp, and black sesame seeds. Tossed in a sesame-ginger vinaigrette.
- Chinese stir-fry: Shredded napa cabbage stir-fried with garlic, ginger, carrot, and a wine-soy sauce mixture. Can be served with rice or noodles.
- Wine-braised cabbage: Cabbage ribbons braised in butter and white wine until it is sweet and tender. Serve alongside meat and roasted chicken.
- Grilled cabbage wedges: Cabbage wedges brushed with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled until tender.
- Cabbage soup: A classic dieter’s vegetable soup that is healthy and low in calories. A mirepoix of carrots, celery, and onions are sautéed in olive oil. Cabbage, tomatoes, and bell peppers are then added and simmered in a large pot with chicken broth until tender. Use vegetable broth to make this a vegan option.
Easy Cider-Braised Cabbage Recipe
Prep Time15 min
Total Time1 hr
Cook Time45 min
Braising cabbage wedges in apple cider and apple cider vinegar gives the dish a tangy flavor that makes a tasty side dish to roast chicken, pork, or seafood.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- One 1 ½ pound head of red cabbage, cut into wedges
- ½ cup chopped thick-cut bacon
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups apple cider
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add cabbage wedges cut side down and cook until browned for 6–8 minutes, flipping halfway. Set aside.
- Add bacon to the same skillet and cook over medium heat, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add shallots to the bacon grease and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and softened, about 8–10 minutes. Stir in vinegar and simmer over medium-high heat until reduced by half, about 2–3 minutes. Add the apple cider and bring to a boil. Place cabbage wedges into the skillet, cover and braise over medium-low heat, flipping over once, until tender, about 20 minutes. Place the cabbage and cover loosely with foil.
- Boiled the remaining sauce over medium-high heat, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from skillet, season with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over cabbage and serve.
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