Cabbage is a part of the Brassica genus, known as cruciferous vegetables. The original name of the Brassicas was Cruciferae, which came from the fact that the flowers of these plants have four petals and were thought to be shaped like a crucifix. All the cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts to name a few, are high in vitamin K which helps blood clot properly. They are believed to maintain good bone health and have cancer-fighting properties. Cabbage is very low in calories, having only about 22 in one cup, and no fat or sodium worthy of mention.
Two of the most commonly recognized cabbage dishes are cole slaw and sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is fermented, the name literally meaning sour cabbage. Sauerkraut is also very high in the beneficial lactobacilli bacteria, which can cause stomach upsets in people unused to this good bacteria. These cabbage dishes are common, but by no means should one stop there. Here are some other ways to incorporate cabbage into the diet.
Cabbage with Noodles
Sliced cabbage looks very much like noodles when cooked. Try this recipe and see.
Put 6 ounces of water into a large pan. Add 2 thinly sliced onions, 6 tablespoons cider vinegar, 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, 3/4 teaspoon caraway seed and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, and stir in 12 ounces of cabbage cut into strips, a tablespoon of paprika and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Cover the pan and cook for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water, if necessary, to keep the liquid in the pan at about 1/2 inch deep.
About 5 minutes before cabbage finishes cooking, drop 6 ounces of egg noodles into 2 quarts of boiling water, with 1 teaspoon of salt and cook them for 5 minutes. The noodles will be undercooked. Drain and add them to the cabbage mixture, along with some ground pepper. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until all the liquid has evaporated and the noodles are al dente, 5 – 7 minutes. Serves 6 to 8.
Try Making Cabbage Rolls
Cabbage rolls are a very common food in many European countries and are delicious. Usually, ground beef is used, sometimes with added pork or even sausage, and combined with raw rice and seasonings of choice. This mixture is rolled into large cabbage leaves and cooked in a tomato based sauce. Cabbage can be used as a sturdier wrap, replacing lettuce for some heartier fillings. Partially cooked cabbage leaves still retain much strength and could also be used this way. Try making spring rolls using cabbage leaves.
Asian Stir Fried Slaw
Shred a pound of cabbage, and thinly slice one red and one green bell pepper. Combine in a bowl 2 tablespoons each of soy sauce, vinegar and sugar and one teaspoon of salt and set aside. Preheat a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add in 3 tablespoons oil, some dried hot chillies and 12 Szechuan peppercorns and stir fry for a few seconds. Omit the chillies, if desired. Add in the cabbage and peppers and stir fry only until wilted. Place the mixture in a large bowl, add in the reserved dressing and 1 tablespoon of dark sesame oil and toss. This is a delicious dish either hot or cold and serves about 4 to 6.
Cabbage in Stir Fry
Cabbage is easy to incorporate into any stir fried dish. If very thinly sliced, it nearly disappears when cooked and will be eaten without question. It can be a large part of the mixture of vegetables or only a bit player but use it. Other varieties of cabbage, such as Napa cabbage are also great in a stir fried dish. The key is not to overcook it as it is really best with a tiny amount of its crunch left.
British Bubble and Squeak
This British dish is simple and tasty whatever its name, mixing mashed potatoes, cooked cabbage and bacon. Cook potatoes in salted water. While they cook, fry some bacon until crisp, remove the bacon and reserve the drippings in the pan. Saute sliced cabbage and onions in the drippings until translucent. Mash the drained cooked potatoes with milk and butter. Add salt and pepper and then the cabbage mixture with the bacon and mix to combine.
Try out some of these ideas and get some cabbage into the diet. I particularly recommend the Cabbage with Noodles or the Asian Stir Fried Slaw for those less excited about cabbage dishes. All of these are excellent ways to incorporate this somewhat mundane but nutritious vegetable into the daily diet.