There is a whole world of cabbage that you may not know about. To name a few vegetables in the cabbage family:
- green cabbage
- red cabbage
- Brussels sprouts
- bok choy
- Napa cabbage
- savoy cabbage
- conehead cabbage
- and more and more!
Other cabbages and cruciferous vegetables include broccoli and cauliflower. Cabbages differ in their head shape, leaf texture, and colour mostly.
Cabbage is a cool weather vegetable. Cabbage leaves should be firm, not wilted, and tightly packed together.
Historically, cabbage was well-liked among the Greeks and Romans for its medicinal properties but then it was cultivated for food. In Canada, it was introduced in the middle of the 16th century. (The Secrets of the Seed Vegetables, Fruits and Nuts p 17).
Cabbage is very adaptable to many flavours, it is inexpensive and it lasts a very long time in the cooler. It can "disappear" in dishes by absorbing liquids when cut finely but it can also be not only visible but a star on the plate. Cabbage suits all kinds of cooking methods and is good raw too. It is a very reasonable and practical veggie to have on hand all the time. Cultures from all over the world eat cabbage in all sorts of ways.
When sliced it becomes coleslaw and even finer like angel hair and it becomes a delicate yet super crisp salad with a superb crunch to it. (Keep it ultra crisp by leaving it in cold water for 10m minutes. Drain it well--nobody likes their salads watery!) Even shaved Brussel sprouts are making themselves onto hot menus and side dishes as well as raw and shaved into salads. Red cabbage is a gorgeous colour raw or cooked such as the classic braised red cabbage. Cooked green cabbage is is soups, stews, braises, and sautéed dishes. It can be grilled, roasted and fermented. Fermenting green cabbage transforms it into sauerkraut and fermenting Napa (and other types) turns it into Korean kimchee.