I grew up loving cabbage, perhaps unusually, thanks to my father proselytizing its health benefits and his constant insistence that most people didn’t like it because they just didn’t know how to cook it. It’s about time everyone learned to love this hearty veg: It’s healthy and affordable and it can be cellared or bought locally year-round.
Growing up, we mostly ate cabbage steamed tender-crisp, saving the leftovers to be pan-fried with mashed potatoes for bubble and squeak the next day. (My father is British, and this was a childhood favourite of his.) But cabbage is incredibly versatile, and as my culinary education progressed, I began to see all the possibilities contained in a head. Ferment it, grill it or even use its leaves as taco shells! Whichever path you choose, it’s clear that cabbage is much more than just coleslaw. In fact, leftovers from these side dishes can be transformed into easy and satisfying mains that will leave you praising this cruciferous marvel.
Garlicky Tomato Grilled Cabbage with Crunchy Breadcrumbs
and Cheesy Cabbage and White Bean Casserole
This is a perfect side dish (that can be transformed into a dinner casserole), using nearly overripe tomatoes to make a sauce that coats charred, tender-crisp grilled cabbage. You can use a barbecue, a grill pan or even the broiler. And while the anchovies are optional, they are highly recommended, providing a delicious umami base note to the dish. Get this grilled cabbage recipe, plus how to turn its leftovers into a cheesy cabbage and white bean casserole.
Fermentation may seem intimidating, but this method, which I learned from Montreal food stylist and fermentation teacher Blake Mackay, is super easy and a great way to preserve any leftover cabbage from another recipe—which is often likely when you’ve bought an entire head. You need to eat sauerkraut raw to get the maximum probiotic benefits, but it’s also delicious when braised with fresh cabbageor used in stews, like Polish bigos. Get this sauerkraut recipe, plus instructions on some flavour variations.
This is my standard treatment for green cabbage, but you could certainly use another type. Its sweet taste, enriched by a lashing of butter, and tender-crisp texture will banish any memories of smelly overcooked cabbage. Get this steamed cabbage recipe, plus how to turn its leftovers into a breakfast bubble and squeak.
For a change of pace (and an easy extra serving of vegetables!), use cabbage leaves instead of tortillas to cradle crispy corn chip–crusted baked fish. Garnished with tangy slaw, creamy avocado, cilantro and pickled jalapenos, this quick, weeknight-friendly dinner is not only healthy and cruciferous, but also absolutely delicious. Get this fish tacos recipe.