12 Ways Cabbage Will Defy Your Expectations

This lowly cruciferous vegetable is versatile in ways that can satisfy and maybe even dazzle you

Mark Bittman
Heated
Published in
5 min readNov 9, 2020

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A large, crisp, dark green head of cabbage.
Photo: Sorin Rechitan/EyeEm/Getty Images

Before we get to cabbage (I know… the anticipation), I wanted to let you know that on Tuesday, November 10, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. EST I’ll be doing a live (virtual) event all about Thanksgiving 2020. The event is a collaboration with Knowable — the company that just launched my audiocourse, How To Eat Now and will hopefully be both fun and useful. We’ll talk about the unique challenges of Thanksgiving in 2020, how to de-stress the holiday in this unprecedentedly stressful year, how to shop, cook, host, etc. Anyone in the audience can ask me whatever they want, which I love. You can register for the event here. It’s totally free, though a donation to support One Fair Wage is always appreciated. I hope you’ll join. Now, on to cabbage.

Cabbage has never been the sexiest of vegetables, but damn — is it useful, versatile, and delicious. It’s something I want in my fridge at all times throughout fall and winter, not only because it keeps for a long time (no quick-thinking required), but because, depending on how you cook it, it can be rich and luxurious (total cold-weather comfort), or fresh and bright (a perfect change of pace).

To celebrate the flexibility of cabbage (OK, maybe “commend” is a more suitable word for such a humble vegetable), here are 12 recipes that I turn to throughout the season. They’re broken into four categories: Braised, Raw, Soup, and Stir-Fried. I suppose you could call the raw ones “slaw,” though none of them bear any resemblance to the stuff that’s drowning in mayo and sugar. The other three methods here do apply heat, ranging from the hot blast of the skillet to the gentleness of a braise to a quick bath in a bubbling broth. Taste often for doneness; the key is to let the cabbage soften and lose its raw edge while still retaining some of its crunch. (For whatever it’s worth, and if you’re so inclined, cabbage is also really incredible on the grill.)

I’ve made suggestions for which type of cabbage to use in which recipes, but you should feel free to substitute. No matter what kind of cabbage you buy, look for tightly packed heads; they should feel heavy for their size, and not have any loose…

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Mark Bittman
Heated

Has published 30 books, including How to Cook Everything and VB6: The Case for Part-Time Veganism. Newsletter at markbittman.com.