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Why Cabbage Rules

April 14, 2020
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Why Cabbage Rules

It lasts for weeks. It’s crunchy and watery and amazing, or you can cook it and infuse an endless range of flavors. It’s very inexpensive. You can easily find three or four different types at basic grocery stores. It’s very good for you – packed with vitamin K, vitamin C, anti-oxidants, high in fiber, low in calories. It’s good for your skin, your metabolism, is anti-inflammatory, is good for digestion, and heart healthy. Name me another ingredient that will last for a month, costs pennies per serving and can boast those benefits. I’ll wait.

Clockwise from top: Napa Cabbage, Red Cabbage, Green Cabbage, Savoy Cabbage, Pointed (or Sweetheart) Cabbage

 

I first fell in love with red cabbage, when I was in college before I was even a professional chef. I studied abroad in Italy and my dad picked me up once the semester was over. We went on an awesome road trip from Florence, North through the Dolomites to Austria. (Remind me to tell you the story of our rental car at midnight on the border, it’s a classic). I can’t really grasp the memory of where we ate the warming braised red cabbage; I can’t remember if it had caraway or apples or red wine in it. But, I do remember coming home and recreating this dish along with the schnitzel that we ate almost daily.

Next, after I moved to San Francisco, I fell in love with the crispier but still soft green cabbage wedges in my local Haight Street green curry with tofu. Somehow, despite the bold, spicy flavors of the curry, the cabbage held its own. Around this time I also adopted a friend’s recipe for a Napa cabbage slaw with poached shrimp in it. 

Do you love Brussels sprouts? They’re cabbage too! I was coming up as a chef as the popularity of Brussels sprouts was also on the rise. 

Cole Slaw? It’s just cabbage with a decadent dressing! Slaws are an awesome way to use a head of cabbage and they go way beyond the classic 1950’s Miracle Whip creamy version. I often make a tangy balsamic version and add some shredded kale in there and maybe a scoop of cooked quinoa. Another great variety is made with cumin, coriander, lots of cilantro, queso fresco and the dressing is made from a blended avocado base so it’s still creamy but dairy free (if you omit the queso).

Store your cabbages in the high-humidity produce drawer. If you only use half or less at a time, you can place the other half back in the drawer. I don’t even cover the cut side but if it’s in there awhile (weeks), you may want to slice a teeny tiny bit off the cut face before using again. If you shred it in advance, store in an airtight container and use within 4-5 days or so. 

Here’s a delicious recipes for a springy, hot cabbage slaw with a Korean BBQ dressing. (Sub a different meat, fish, or sautéed eggplant, tofu, or portobellos if you don’t like pork).

Korean Pork Tenderloin and Hot Cabbage Slaw with Peas

🥦Thoughts from Chef Alison 🥑

Alison
Alison Mountford is the Founder and CEO of Ends+Stems, a meal planning service designed to reduce household food waste and stop the effects of climate change. Alison has been named a Rubicon Waste Fit Champion, was a finalist for the Spoon Tech Startup Showcase, and has appeared on many podcasts and radio shows, and works as a food waste consultant.

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