By Regina Contini, OSU Dietetic Intern
Cabbage is one of those vegetables that can be ignored all year, until summertime, when it is often found smothered in mayonnaise on a picnic table. Coleslaw, however, can be a refreshing side dish any time of the year. Enjoy coleslaw with Thai-ginger dressing and peanuts, an Asian-sesame slaw with shredded carrots, or go south of the border with cilantro-lime slaw. You can make coleslaw simply by adding your favorite salad dressing to shredded cabbage.
Cabbage, like broccoli, is a cruciferous vegetable that offers similar nutrients and 1 cup contains vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and fiber. Cruciferous vegetables also contain a sulfuric compound that helps fight against cancer. This health promoting compound, however, can produce a strong smell, especially if cabbage is overcooked. To avoid the sulfuric smell and to maintain the cancer-fighting qualities, it is best to cook cabbage for short periods of time without a lid. Add cabbage to soups or stews for just a few minutes before they are finished cooking.
Don’t let the risk of a smell discourage you from cooking cabbage. Delicious recipes from around the world feature cooked cabbage. It would be a shame to miss out on some of the cultural cabbage classics.
Green cabbage is sold at most grocery stores and is the go-to choice for coleslaw. Corned beef and cabbage, an Irish classic, is enjoyed at least once a year by many American’s for St. Patrick’s Day. Green cabbage makes several appearances in Mexican cuisine, incorporated into salad, on top of a taco, or in abondiga soup, a traditional Mexican meatball soup. In Italy, green cabbage makes its way into minestrone and Italian wedding soup.
Napa cabbage, also known as Chinese cabbage, has thick white stalks that transition into light green curly leaves. It is commonly used in Chinese egg rolls and fermented to make probiotic-rich Kimchi. Most families in Korea have their own family recipe for Kimchi, and keep a supply on-hand all year.
Red cabbage is like green cabbage’s red twin. Its red pigment signifies strong antioxidant properties. Rotholk is a German “sweet and sour” red cabbage, cooked with apples and spices. Italians also enjoy sweet and sour red cabbage, often cooked with vinegar, sugar, caraway seeds and pancetta, an Italian style bacon. Borscht is a red beet and cabbage soup, popular in Russia, Ukraine and Poland. It is often balanced with a scoop of cool sour cream on top.
Savoy cabbage has loose, curly leaves compared to green cabbage, so it is easy to pull leaves away from each other. This is convenient for Golumpki, a Polish meat and rice stuffed cabbage roll. It can be served smothered in tomato sauce, yum! Sauerkraut is a German fermented cabbage traditionally made with savoy cabbage. Try savoy cabbage instead of tortillas to make smothered burritos or enchiladas; a great way to eat more vegetables.
Bok choy hardly looks like cabbage, it has long white stalks with dark green leaves. Bok choy is typically stir fried in many Asian dishes, especially in Chinese cuisine. It is delicious stir fried with ginger, garlic, chili and soy sauce.
Brussels sprouts are the cutest cabbages of them all. The ones we know in America originated in Belgium. Brussels sprouts can be cooked a variety of ways; roasted with olive oil, sautéed with ham or bacon, and even deep fried and topped with parmesan cheese. They are also fantastic raw, just shredded with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
With so many types and flavors, cabbage can be your friend all year. Get started with this tasty and easy-to-make buttermilk slaw.
Country Buttermilk Slaw
(Recipe courtesy of Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council)
½ cup lowfat buttermilk, shaken
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
3 large green onions, thinly sliced
1 pound Napa cabbage, cored and thinly sliced crosswise (4 cups)
6 radishes, thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
Whisk together buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until sugar has dissolved.
Add green onions, cabbage, radishes, and celery; toss to coat with dressing.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Per serving: 70 calories, 4 g total fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 170 mg sodium, 6 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 2 g protein, 68 mg calcium.