Curly, round or conical, pale-green or vibrant ruby-red, cabbage is a versatile vegetable that may be shredded for coleslaw, sliced into a stir-fry, or simmered until softened in a flavorful liquid and served as a side dish with hearty fall meals. It can even be added to mashed potatoes and pasta sauces, if you like.
A cruciferous vegetable that contains disease-fighting phytochemicals as well as vitamin C, folate, fiber, and beta-carotene, its crisp texture and slightly peppery flavor make cabbage a popular ingredient in many South Beach Diet dishes. Here’s a guide to some of our favorite cabbage varieties, and a suggested dish to try with each.
Bok choy. With its crunchy white stalks and lush green leaves, bok choy looks almost like wide-stalked celery. Widely available in supermarkets, it has a mild cabbagey flavor. When shopping, look for crisp, firm stems and glossy leaves, and once you get the bok choy home, store it for no longer than several days. You can slice the stalks and steam or stir-fry them. The leaves are especially good when steamed, too, but be sure to separate them from the stalks before cooking. Also look for baby bok choy, which resembles a miniature version of regular bok choy but has more uniform green leaves and a noncabbagey taste. Use either baby or regular bok choy in this zesty Bok Choy and Shrimp Stir-Fry, which is perfectly seasoned with both chili sauce and reduce-sodium soy sauce.
Green. This is your go-to cabbage variety for coleslaw and other salads, since it’s sturdy enough to stand up to a variety of dressings and holds up well in stir-fries. Choose a head that feels heavy for its size and has moist-looking leaves, and avoid any heads with wilted or brownish leaves. Green cabbage (the color will vary from nearly white to pale green) keeps for at least a week as long as it is well-wrapped and refrigerated. Try green cabbage in our perfectly spiced Moroccan Cabbage and Carrot Slaw, a great side dish to serve with chicken or steak.
Napa. Also dubbed Chinese cabbage, Napa has an appealing celery-like taste. It’s an excellent choice for salads or for stir-fries, where its crinkly, light green leaves provide texture and color. Napa cabbage comes in a few varieties such as michihili (a cylindrical head with open leaves on top) and wong bok (large and barrel-shaped.) Once you get it home, wrap it tightly and refrigerate for up to three days. You can replace the bok choy with Napa in this Beef and Bok Choy Fried Rice, a hearty, filling entrée the whole family will love.
Red. It’s not only beautiful, but red cabbage has a more robust, hearty flavor than green cabbage—and it contains more vitamin C than the green variety. The color can vary from a deep, vibrant ruby-red to purple. Sometimes a bit tougher than green cabbage, the red variety also is delicious in this make-ahead Braised Red Cabbage, where it’s simmered with chopped onion and caraway seeds in reduced-sodium chicken broth sparked with a splash of red wine vinegar.
Savoy. If you’re making coleslaw or another type of cabbage salad, consider this mellow, mildly flavored cabbage variety. It features a delicate texture, crinkled yellowish green leaves, and a full, loose head. When shopping for savoy, choose a head that has crisp leaves with no discoloration. A bit more perishable than green cabbage, Savoy should be refrigerated and used within several days. For a hearty side dish to serve with pork tenderloin, make this delightful Savoy Cabbage and Peppers, which is seasoned with caraway seeds and mustard seeds.