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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Cabbage:


The cabbage is a leafy green biennial grown as an annual vegetable for its dense leaved heads.  It is closely related to broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.  The main varieties of cabbage are Savoy, Spring Greens, Green, Red, and White.  Cabbage is a cool season crop, but is available year round in the market.

Cabbage was probably domesticated in Europe before 1000 BC.  The Greeks and Romans claimed medicinal uses for cabbage including relief from gout, headaches, and symptoms of poisonous mushroom ingestion.   During the 16th century German gardeners developed Savoy cabbage with its curly leaves, mild flavor, and tender texture.  Today's cabbage is selectively bred for head weight and morphological characteristics (form and structure including outward appearance).  Cabbage is widely cultivated around the world. 

When I was in my early twenties I went out with a girl who was the daughter of a produce manager for a supermarket chain.   We just went out a couple of times, but this one evening we drove past a cabbage field.   I didn't know it was there and when the smell of cabbage started to enter the car I was so embarrassed.   I didn't know what the smell was.  Did she think it was me? Well, I didn't say anything and neither did she, but I never forgot it.  It was one of life's embarrassing moments.

Cabbage is a good source of beta-carotene, vitamins C and K, and fiber.  It is a cruciferous vegetable  loaded with phyto-chemicals and has been shown to reduce the risk of some cancers  including colorectal, breast, and prostate.  Steamed cabbage is especially helpful in lowering cholesterol.

Cabbage can be eaten raw or steamed, pickled (sauerkraut, kim chee), sauteed or braised.  Cooked cabbage can sometimes have an unpleasant odor.  This is a result of over-cooking.  Choose medium size heads that are firm, compact, and heavy for their size with crisp colorful leaves free from cracks, bruises, or blemishes.  Avoid precut cabbage (halved or shredded).  Once cut it begins to lose vitamin C.  Put the whole head in a plastic bag in the crisper of your refrigerator.  Red and green will keep about two weeks.  Savoy will keep about one  week.

So...... Eat up!  Enjoy!  I'll show you how.

Simple but Good:

Sauteed Cabbage

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small yellow onion, finely sliced
1/4 medium head of cabbage, cored and sliced into strips
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup frozen mixed vegetables
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat skillet to medium and add olive oil.  Add onion and sautee till soft about 2 to 3 minutes.  Add cabbage and continue to sautee about another three minutes.   Add mixed vegetables and stock  and cover.  Cook about 5 to 10 minutes.  Stir and add salt and pepper to taste.  Enjoy!