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Chatelaine Kitchen

In-season produce: How to use cabbage

This common leafy green has a lot to offer in the kitchen, if you know how to use it.
By Carolyn Lim Chua
Savoy cabbage. (Photo, iStock.) Savoy cabbage. (Photo, iStock.)

It may not be the Beyoncé of leafy greens, but cabbage—aside from being a vitamin C and fibre powerhouse—has an long-held reputation for adapting to different methods of cooking. Whether it’s served as coleslaw, cabbage rolls or caramelized with sage brown butter, its flavour has range, from sweet to earthy. This common cruciferous vegetable, of the large Brassica family, has a variety of types and colours to choose from. Here are some tips on how to use cabbage, based on the common varieties you're likely to find in stores:

Green cabbage_istock Green cabbage

Green cabbage is the most common type. Look for tightly packed shiny leaves and heads that are heavy for their size. Once purchased, store for about two weeks. Use it in coleslaw or sauté or steam it.

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Red cabbage Red cabbage
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Red cabbage is often available at the same time as green cabbage, with its colour ranging from deep red to purple. Once cooked, it turns blue, unless vinegar or other acids are added. They are typically smaller and have a slightly sweeter, peppery taste.

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Savoy cabbage. (Photo, iStock.) Savoy cabbage

Savoy cabbage is a beta-carotene champ. While its wrinkly leaves are less crunchy, it is milder, sweeter and prettier than its cousins. Tip: It needs more time to simmer before it becomes tender.

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Napa cabbage Napa cabbage
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Napa cabbage is a mild tasting, oblong Chinese cabbage. Also known as celery cabbage due to its taste, it is calcium-rich and is often used in stir-fries or eaten raw.

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Brussels sprouts Brussels sprouts
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Brussels sprouts are mini cabbages that are especially high in vitamin K and C. While some dislike the taste of these sprouts, I’m in the ‘like’ camp because they're delicious when roasted with grapes, lightly sautéed in butter or shaved raw into a salad. Just be careful not to overcook them or they’ll start to smell funky.

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