“In Soweto, during the dark times, when money was low, cabbage was always there. Our grandmothers would boil it for hours until it was soft. On special occasions they might add carrots and some potatoes – similar to bubble and squeak – to give it a bit of flair. My mom, Gloria, would make yellow cabbage – it was only later that I worked out that she’d add turmeric. Some people consider it a meat substitute – they’d serve pap, gravy and cabbage.” – Lesego Semenya
There’s really very little cabbage can’t do, be it roasted, grilled on the braai or served raw with a punchy dressing. The only thing to bear in mind here is the texture – if you want crunch, raw or roasted cabbage is your best bet. For something tender and meltingly soft, slow-cook it the same way you would a piece of meat. Its flavour is also incredibly mild so it’s compatible with other strong flavours, such as Cheddar and blue cheese, bacon, garlic and lemon. The cooling nature of raw cabbage also means it can carry heat well (think of kimchi), and counter it when served alongside something fatty and spicy, such as hot fried chicken. These are our current favourite ways to eat cabbage:
Raw: Pickled cabbage
Serve this tangy pickle on rolls with burgers, in hot dogs, or even as a vegan alternative to pickled fish.
Get the recipe for pickled cabbage here.
Slow-cooked: Melting cabbage
Lots of fat (olive oil or butter) is needed for this one, which turns cabbage from the ugly sister into a seductive, glossy centrepiece. Pan-fry the cabbage first in plenty of oil with your choice of aromatics and spices, then roast it submerged in water or stock. Serve with bacon or sour cream and coriander.
Get the recipe for melting caramelised cabbage here.
Roasted: whole-roasted cabbage
If you’re looking for an impressive, veggie dish, this is it. You could even omit the bacon and serve it as a vegetarian main course – carve it at the table for extra wow factor.
Get the recipe for whole-roasted cabbage here.