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Capsicum/Peppers »« Butternut Squash

Cabbage

Brassica oleracea var capitata


Photo courtesy of Horticulture New Zealand

Description

Cabbage is one of the (far too many) vegetables with a bad reputation born of incorrect cooking. Correctly cooked, however, it’s sweet, crunchy, and versatile.

There are a variety of cabbages that are good at different times of the year, but the cabbages that tend to be readily available from supermarkets or grocers are grown all year round.

One of those leafy green vegetables we should all be eating regularly, cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C, as well as glutamine, an amino acid with anti-inflammatory properties.

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History

The cabbage we eat is derived from a wild leafy mustard plant. Native to the Mediterranean, it was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans, who celebrated it for its medicinal properties.

Far from the tightly closed, round head of today’s cabbages, it was originally a loose-leafed vegetable, but through selective propagation has evolved into its familiar form. The headed variety we use today was developed in the Middle Ages.

Uses

The old-fashioned cooking method of boiling has given cabbage a reputation for being tasteless, watery, and smelly. Boiling releases sugars that give it that characteristic smell, so try other methods of cooking.

A simple way to prepare cabbage – of any variety – as a side vegetable is steaming. Thinly slice your cabbage and rinse. Put into a large pot with a small piece of butter and a grinding of pepper, and cook with the lid on over a medium heat, turning occasionally with tongs, until wilted but still crunchy.

In Eastern Europe and the Middle East, whole cabbage leaves are wilted and stuffed with a mixture of meat, rice, and spices. Or try adding it, shredded, to a stir fry with garlic and ginger.

Facts

Cabbage is a member of the same species as broccoli, kale, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and Brussels sprouts, collectively known as cruciferous vegetables. Each has been selectively bred for different characteristics over hundreds of years.

In Italian, the word ‘cavolo’, meaning cabbage, is used as an expression similar to our English ‘crap’.

The New Zealand cabbage tree, Cordyline australis, was named by early settlers for its young shoots, which they boiled, and which (presumably) tasted something like cabbage.

People with thyroid problems should avoid eating too much cauliflower or cabbage, as they can interfere with the body’s absorption of iodine.



Capsicum/Peppers »« Butternut Squash

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