3 recipes for cabbage that’ll make you fall in love with it

By Jess Spiro, 20 May 2021

This humble vegetable is having a moment, and we’re not just talking about using it for coleslaw. There’s so much more to cabbage – it’s not only great value, but it’s versatile and can be eaten both raw and cooked. How do we love cabbage? Let us count the ways below.

“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.
Melting-caramelised-cabbageGet 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.

Jess Spiro

Article by Jess Spiro

Jess Spiro is a freelance food writer, chef and restaurant critic based in Cape Town, who can often be found in search of the next great plate of food. Follow her on Instagram @jess_spiro to see what she's eating.
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