For various reasons, many people believe that they don’t care for or actively dislike cabbage. Some people dislike its taste while others dislike its crunchy texture. However, cabbage is one of the most flexible vegetables available, and there are many different ways to prepare it. Each cooking method not only changes its taste and texture but also increases the number of foods that it pairs well with. If you’ve never liked cabbage, try a fresh, new way of cooking it, and you might be surprised!

Buying High-Quality Cabbage

Before cooking cabbage, you need to pick out and purchase a good quality cabbage head. There are four major varieties of cabbage that are available in most stores: green, red, savoy, and napa. Green and red cabbage are ideal for salads. Many people create wraps with savoy, though it is also great with butter or in a stir-fry. Napa has a more mild taste and fits into almost any dish. Regardless of what type of cabbage you wish to cook, choose a head that is bright and rich in color. It should also feel heavier than other heads of cabbage of similar size. Additionally, the leaves should feel crisp and tightly packed.

types cabbage red green Nic_Ol / Getty Images


Preparing the Cabbage

Once you’ve picked out your cabbage, you can start preparing it for the recipe. First, get rid of the outer leaves. Most of these are tough and not ideal for cooking. Once you’ve removed some of the leaves, you can wash the remaining ones. When the cabbage is clean, you should remove its core, which is tough and not as tasty as the rest of the vegetable. To easily remove the core, cut the cabbage into quarters. After this, simply carve out the thick core of each piece with a chef’s knife.

prepare quarter cabbage slice 3sbworld / Getty Images


Blanch It

One of the most popular cooking methods for cabbage is blanching. This is a style of cooking where the chef will boil an ingredient and then immediately place it in cold water. It removes bitterness, brightens the color, and keeps the flavor fresh. To blanch cabbage, first, boil it for several minutes until it is tender. This usually takes between three and five minutes. After boiling, transfer the leaves to cold water. You can then place them in a salad or use them alongside another cooking method for more robust flavor in your dishes.

blanching vegetables boil water deepblue4you / Getty Images


Steam It

Steaming softens vegetables while maintaining their flavor. Though all cabbages take well to steaming, it is particularly ideal for white and napa cabbage. To steam cabbage, you’ll get the best results using a steamer basket. Add just enough water to a pot to reach the bottom of the steamer basket. Heat the water over medium-high heat until it begins to steam. Place the cabbage quarters into the basket, cover, and steam for 10 to 12 minutes. They should be tender when you touch them with a fork. If you wish to eat them alone, add salt and pepper to taste. Alternatively, you can add them to a stir-fry.

steaming vegetables cabbage cooking Easyturn / Getty Images


Boil It

One of the easiest and fastest ways to prepare cabbage is simply boiling it. Fill a large pot with water and add in ½ teaspoon sea salt and bring it to a boil. You can either boil the cabbage quarters as they are or you can slice them into thick strips. Boil the cabbage for 10 minutes without a cover. They should be slightly tender, but still crunchy. Add some olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper for flavor. If you want a stronger taste to your cabbage, try boiling it in vegetable broth rather than water.

boiling water cooking grandriver / Getty Images


Roast It

Many people find that the best way to bring out the flavor of the cabbage is to roast it. Begin by preheating your oven to 450 F. Slice your cabbage quarters into two wedges for a total of eight pieces. Lightly brush both sides of each wedge with olive oil. You can season the wedges with salt, pepper, garlic powder, or red pepper flakes for flavor. Arrange the wedges on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Flip them over and roast until they are brown and beginning to char. For some additional tanginess, squeeze a fresh lemon over each wedge.

roasting oven cabbage dish South_agency / Getty Images


Sauté It

Many high profile restaurants opt to sauté their cabbages. This means they cook the vegetable in a small amount of oil or fat over high heat. To sauté a cabbage, slice the quarters into long, thick strips. Chop each strip into smaller pieces. Some people choose to use butter rather than oil. If you’re using butter, only add it once the pan is hot; otherwise, you risk burning the butter. Sautéing usually requires less than two tablespoons of butter, oil, or fat. Add the cabbage and season it lightly with salt and pepper. Cook the cabbage for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the cabbage begins to brown and becomes tender.

saute cook cabbage vegetable LauriPatterson / Getty Images


Fry It

If you’re looking to add flavor and punch to your cabbage, frying is the way to go. First, heat two tablespoons vegetable oil in a wok or frying pan. As the oil is heating, shred the cabbage leaves and slice some garlic cloves and set them aside. Once the oil is hot, add the cabbage and garlic to the pan and stir-fry until it begins to wrinkle. You can then add a small amount of vegetable stock. Cover and cook the vegetables for a few minutes until it is almost tender. There are many alternative oils to use if you wish to change the flavor of the cabbage. Some people choose bacon grease for a smokey flavor, while others use coconut oil to make the dish healthier.

fry oil stir-fry cabbage Floriana / Getty Images


Slow Cook It

A cooking method that many people tend to forget is slow cooking. Many people are busy throughout the day and lack time to cook a full meal. For these people, crock pots and slow cookers are incredibly useful. When you cook cabbage in a slow cooker, you bring out the flavor of the ingredients to the absolute maximum. For a good slow cooker cabbage dish, you’ll need:

  • Two minced garlic cloves
  • One chopped onion, preferably yellow
  • One head of cabbage
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup vegetable broth

Slice each cabbage quarter into thick strips and then add all the vegetables to the slow cooker. Pour in the vegetable broth and cook on low heat for around five hours. In some cases, you can cook it for less time if the carrots and cabbage become tender sooner.

slow cooker cabbage pressure matt6t6 / Getty Images


Common Mistakes

When it comes to cooking cabbage, many people make a few common mistakes. They may have chosen a poor-quality cabbage, to begin with. They may also have used a cooking method that is incompatible with the cabbage they chose. In terms of cooking, the techniques are not particularly complex, so most of the mistakes involve the seasoning. Many people tend to use too little salt for their cabbage because they are not accustomed to salting leafy vegetables. This strictly limits the flavor of the cabbage.

season salt prepare cooking jeffbergen / Getty Images


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