When most people think of cabbage, they think of cole slaw. Soaked in mayo, slathered on barbeque sandwiches, most don’t see cabbage as particularly healthy for us, but it is!
Cabbage can ward off such ailments as stomach ulcers, headaches, arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and even cancers. For any of you that suffer from sore muscles, cabbage has wonderful anti-inflammatory properties, due to amino-acids it contains. And, it’s loaded with vitamin C (has even more than the lauded orange)!
But if you’re like me, you don’t know too much about cabbage, past it’s classic cole slaw goodness. Of course, it’s delicious on St. Patrick’s day with corned beef, but how about a light garbure soup, served with bacon and cheese. Or, shred some cabbage, cook then refrigerate to add at the last minute to stir-fries or any other quick dish. Use the leaves in place of your wraps for a lighter snack. Sauerkraut on a grilled hotdog, anyone? And I love cabbage on fish tacos. Nothing is better on a hot summer day.
Let’s learn a little bit about this super veggie. Cabbage is a relative of some of our other favorite green veggies – broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, and collard greens.
Purchasing and Preparation
- Choose a cabbage with crisp, firmly-packed leaves that is heavy for its size. (No dull leaves or brown spots wanted!)
- Wash and blot dry.
- Cut to the core.
- Soften the leaves by popping the whole head of cabbage in the freezer overnight. Let the cabbage sit out on the countertop the next morning for about 30 minutes and then proceed to peel off the leaves.
- To shred cabbage, quarter the head and cut off the core. Stack the leaves and cut crosswise into thin strips.
- Cover the shredded cabbage with ice water for an hour and then drain and blog dry before adding the other ingredients for extra crisp slaw.
- Because boiling can tenderize the leaves, releasing sugars, that famous odor is released and can smell up your whole house. Of course, you can reduce the odor by tossing in a couple of bread chunks for pot sweeteners, but the smell continues to get exponentially worse the longer cabbage is cooked, so try to cook it as quickly as possible — in 4 or 5 minutes if possible (the thinner cabbage is cut, the less cooking time it needs).
- Steamed cabbage wedges will hold together better than boiled.
- For red cabbage, add 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar for each cup of cooking water to preserve its color.
(And does anyone know where the title line is from? You get 80 bonus points if you do. I’ll give you a hint — there are “kids” involved.)