I can’t help but think about cabbage as St. Patrick’s Day approaches. I make a traditional “boiled dinner” and invite family and friends for the special meal, complete with Irish brown soda bread, potatoes, carrots, and corned beef. (I know this dinner is an Americanized version and the meat is not the same as in Ireland, but we enjoy it and have fun.)
But cabbage isn’t just for March. ICF stores thousands of pounds of cabbage each year: napa, savoy, red, green and by maintaining proper temperature and humidity (and thoughtful trimming), we are able to enjoy cabbage throughout the fall, winter, and spring. Right until the new and early napa arrives!
Is it possible to get sick of cabbage? Sure, I suppose. But changing up the preparation of any of the types will keep cabbage fresh for you. Often, out of laziness or expediency, I braise cabbage in a frying pan with either soy sauce or caraway seeds and vinegar. The seasonings depend on what I am planning for the rest of the meal. The softer cabbages (napa and savoy) are easy to incorporate into Asian noodle bowls or vegetable soups without long cooking times. Red or green cabbages hold up well in crockpots because they are heartier (favorites are chicken breasts and green cabbage or pork roast and red cabbage.) Of course any of the varieties are great in cold salads: slaws, mixed with lettuces or spinach, chopped with other vegetables. I never met a cabbage that didn’t like mayonnaise or salad dressing, but be sure to try flavored vinegars, fancy salts, and olive oils from different countries for experiments.
When I was a kid I remember my grandmother’s cabbage soup; cabbage, onions, and carrots were put through one of those old hand grinders (way before food processors) and cooked with ground beef in a broth. It was a tasty soup and the memory has remained. Some recipes for soup or casseroles using cabbage are even more basic; in The New England Yankee Cookbook from 1939, cabbage soup is essentially boiled cabbage in water and add some cream.
Colcannon is another good Irish dish for anytime, not just St. Patrick’s Day. The main ingredients are potatoes, scallions, sometimes leftover ham or bacon, and finely shredded cabbage. I’ve made this with green cabbage before but also napa. Savoy would work, as well, because it will get tender more easily. Don’t be afraid of this dish…it’s essentially mashed potatoes with cabbage and other things tossed in. And if you are trying to hide vegetables in main dishes your problem is solved with colcannon.
Cabbage is full of fiber, rich in vitamins and minerals, and has virtually no fat. It’s a great accompaniment to meat, noodles, and as the basis for soup. It can be a main dish or a salad course. I haven’t used it in a dessert yet, but I might have to figure out something clever soon! With 4 types of cabbage from the farm and infinite possibilities in cooking methods, it’s possible to have this brassica at every dinner and not repeat any preparation for at least a week.
Challenge yourselves and eat cabbage every day for a week!