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Now is time to try a variety of cabbage recipes

For most of us, eating healthier is all about eating more vegetables — and while we are enjoying them, not adding lots of fat.

At home, we are seasonal cooks, and we like to enjoy and use local foods. At this time of the year, when I think about local foods I think of all the beautiful heads of cabbage. I usually think of cabbage as being more of a fall vegetable, but with our cooler temperatures this summer there is already a great cabbage crop now.

I know the list is endless when it comes to what you can make with cabbage. One of the foods I think of first when I see that dark green head of cabbage is one of my favorites: cabbage rolls filled with a meat loaf mixture and then baked in a tomato sauce.

We also enjoy some great homemade coleslaw with a light, vinegar-based dressing. A fast way to make it is to use a raspberry vinaigrette dressing. When making the coleslaw, I save many of the outer cabbage leaves, heat them in the microwave for a few minutes, trim the stem and make the cabbage rolls.

Next, I am ready for fried cabbage with some Italian salad dressing drizzled on it, sweet and sour cabbage by itself or with some onions and sausage.

A great snack or fast way to prepare cabbage is to just take a wedge of cabbage and drizzle Italian salad dressing on it, then microwave for three or four minutes.

When I see that red or purple cabbage head, I think of my grandmother Van Den Broecke’s cooked sweet and sour cabbage that had raisins in it. It is the best with roasted meat, but then again I can just as happily eat it by itself.

Cabbage can be purchased year-round, but I think it is the best late summer and through the fall. The most common cabbage in American markets is the large, round-head variety with medium-green outer leaves that go to pale green inside. The leaves overlap tightly around a central core.

Select a head that is heavy for its size without drying around the core. When preparing, discard any wilted or damaged leaves and remove the core with a sharp paring knife.

A whole head of cabbage may be shredded and eaten raw as a salad or coleslaw; it may be steamed, braised, added to soups or preserved as sauerkraut.

One creative way to use cabbage is at the center of a vegetable tray to serve as a bowl for the dip. To do this, use a cabbage head and cut the end flat so it will set level. Slice off the top fourth or third of the cabbage, depending on its size, and then hollow out the center with a paring knife. A red cabbage is a real color bonus when you are making a cabbage head dip bowl.

However you choose to prepare it, now is the time to enjoy fresh locally grown cabbage. For some great cabbage recipes, visit the Purdue Extension’s website.

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