Mighty Cabbage

Posted by Alayne Gardner-Carimi on

All Hail the Cabbage

This humble vegetable (often overlooked or worse yet, overcooked) holds numerous wonders and benefits! Perhaps not as glamorous as asparagus or artichokes, or as easy to disguise as zucchini, its cold tolerance allows it to be one of the last green vegetables harvested.

A member of the Brassica oleracea family, cabbage is chock-full of nutrition. When it comes to winter vegetables, the lowly cabbage is truly a wonder for its shelf life and versatility. With Oils and Vinegars from vomFASS Madison, cabbages can add nutrition and palate-pleasing variety, with seasonal comfort and crunch throughout winter.

Head of its Class

Ancient, useful, adaptable, and worthy of respect, cabbage originated in Asia Minor (Turkey today) and the eastern Mediterranean. The English “cabbage” may be derived from the French “caboche” or head. Cabbage is a staple in many cuisines around the world and is incredibly versatile in the kitchen. It can be enjoyed raw in salads or slaws, fermented into sauerkraut or kimchi, or cooked in stir-fries, soups, stews, and casseroles.

Out of Many

There are over four hundred different varieties of cabbage grown throughout the world. However, only a few make their way to the American grocer produce section, each bringing their special touch to winter cuisine. Grocer favorites include...

he outer leaves range from dark to pale green while the inside is pale green or white. When raw, its texture is somewhat rubbery and its flavor kind of peppery, but once cooked, the green cabbage softens and takes on a sweeter taste. You want to choose heads that are heavy in the hand and with tightly bound leaves. Before using, discard the outer wilted leaves. Green cabbage can be eaten raw when sliced thinly (as in coleslaw), or it can be added to stir-fries, casseroles or soups. Of course, this is the cabbage we are all familiar with when it comes to cabbage rolls.
Purple (red)
These cabbages take longer to mature, so these types are generally not as tender as green or white varieties. Shredded purple cabbage makes a striking addition to coleslaw and traditional salads. Red cabbage makes a beautiful pickled cabbage. Watch out, though 
 the color will leach into any other ingredients.
When cooking with red or purple cabbage, be aware that the compound (anthocyanin) that gives the cabbage that beautiful color will also turn blue when it is cooked along with any alkaline substance. Since tap water is often full of alkaline minerals such as lime, be sure to add about one teaspoon of an acidic agent — such as lemon juice, vinegar, or wine — to the pot when using tap water. If your red cabbage begins to take on that blue tinge in any recipe, the addition of the acidic agent will usually bring back the original color.
According to Texas A&M University, the name savoy comes from the historical Savoy region of the Western Alps in parts of what is now Italy, France, and Switzerland. Originating in this area, this cabbage has deep green crinkly leaves. The wrinkly leaves have a milder flavor and a lighter texture than the more traditional green cabbage that many of us are used to. The head is less compact, due to the wrinkled leaves, but looks like green cabbage. It is the better choice for stuffed cabbage since the leaves are more pliable and stand up to longer cooking times but is also great raw in coleslaw. 
Napa (Chinese)
Yellow-green, with frilly leaves and crisp, thick stems and an oblong head, Napa cabbage is one of the milder flavored cabbages, Napa can be eaten raw or cooked, and is softer and sweeter than the other varieties. It should not be confused with Bok Choy, which is actually from the chard family.

Regardless of the variety of cabbage you choose this week, vomFASS Oils and Vinegars can bring out the best!

Canvas for Creativity

Cabbage is not overpowering in flavor. It has a natural sweetness, especially when it's cooked. This sweetness can be enhanced by caramelization when cabbage is roasted or sautéed, adding depth to its flavor profile. Like other vegetables in the cruciferous family, cabbage has a subtle earthy and slightly bitter undertone.  Its mild taste allows a wide canvas upon which we can enhance its natural taste and create new and exciting flavor profiles with many vomFASS Oils and Vinegars.

If you have a favorite vomFASS or oil or vinegar combination, you can probably apply it to a cabbage dish! Combine Plum Balsamic Star and Ginger Sesame Oil to transform chopped Napa cabbage into a superb Asian Slaw. The combination of Date Balsamic Star and Orange Extra Virgin Olive Oil make an excellent dressing for slaw as well as a comforting cooked cabbage dish to serve with pork or salmon. By experimenting with different oils and vinegars, you can create a variety of delicious cabbage dishes, each with its own unique flavor profile. Whether you prefer a tangy and bright cabbage salad or a rich and caramelized roasted cabbage, oils and vinegars can elevate the flavor and bring out the best in this versatile vegetable.

Local Nutritional Powerhouse 

Cabbage is packed with essential nutrients including vitamins C, K, B6, and folate; as well as containing antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory compounds. Cabbage is high in both insoluble and soluble fibers, which help digestion and benefit gut bacteria. And purple cabbages are high in cancer-fighting anthocyanins. Best of all, as a cool weather loving vegetable, many are grown and stored locally, drastically decreasing the food travel footprint in comparison to consuming warmer climate veggies during the winter.

Savory Filled Brownies

Caramelized Cabbage

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