In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we salute the cabbage!

Catharine L. Kaufman
Catharine L. Kaufman

A century ago cabbage was sneered at as a peasant’s food. Today, it is lauded as a nutritional powerhouse with anti-cancerous and anti-aging agents:

Loaded with the amino acid glutamine (especially in the raw form) to bolster the health of the gut, cabbage has also been linked with helping to alleviate stomach ulcers.

Cabbage is rife with calcium to amp up bone health, Vitamin K for the production of blood clotting proteins, Vitamin C for immune support, Vitamin B for calming the nerves and Vitamin A for cellular regeneration.

Packed with potassium, cabbage helps regulate blood pressure and its quercetin acts as a natural antihistamine to put the skids on seasonal allergies.

Cabbage has a mother lode of powerful antioxidants, which not only stimulate detoxifying enzymes, but lowers “bad” cholesterol.

Cabbage Cousins: Kale, collards, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and sprouting broccoli.

Cook’s tip: To diminish the typical “stinky” odor from cooking cabbage, add a dash of chili pepper to the water.

Cabbage Traits

The green head of tightly packed, smooth, moist leaves can swell to soccer ball size. It’s ideal for slaws, soups, stuffed cabbage rolls, braising, steaming or fermenting in a salty brine for a homemade sauerkraut that packs a probiotic punch.

•n Red cabbage is endowed with its gorgeous violet hue (and highest Vitamin C content of all cabbage siblings) from compounds made up of sugar and pigments called anthocyanidins. Smaller in size than green heads, look for solid heft and also tightly packed leaves. Red adds a nice crunch and splash of eye candy to salads and slaws, and is scrumptious braised in a hearty sweet and sour Bavarian side dish. One drawback — red cabbage transforms to a funky bluish tinge when cooked. Add a sprinkling of lemon juice or vinegar to the pot to curb the metamorphosis.

Savoy cabbage has delicate dark green ruffled leaves that curl back on the head. More tender in taste and texture than the green-headed, Savoy multi-tasks in salads, stir-fries, soups, assorted wraps or a braised side dish.

Napa or Chinese cabbage is elliptical-shaped, resembling a romaine lettuce with pale green leaves sprouting from white stalks. Mild peppery notes make it a great choice for kimchi, stir-fries, egg roll or dumpling stuffings, slaws and sweet and sour cabbage soup.

Bok choy cabbage has dark green tender leaves flowering from a thick opaquely white stalk. The flavor is reminiscent of baby spinach or Swiss chard and is wonderful in clear broths, sautéed mixed vegetables, omelettes and stir-fries.

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IRISH COLCANNON

Ingredients

• 2 pounds redskin potatoes

• 1 Savoy or green cabbage head, trimmed, cored, sliced

• 1/2 cup scallions, coarsely chopped

• 1 cup milk

• 4 tablespoons sweet butter

• Sea salt and black pepper to taste

•  Fresh chopped parsley or chives

Method: Cut potatoes in chunks, leaving skin on. Place in a saucepan, cover with water, and boil until tender. Drain, mash and set aside.

In another large saucepan, boil cabbage with milk and seasonings until tender. Combine with potatoes; add scallions and 3 tablespoons of butter. Blend well until butter is melted.

Transfer to a serving dish. Make a well in the center and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Garnish with parsley or chives.

— For more recipes, visit FreeRangeClub.com or e-mail kitchenshrink@san.rr.com

   
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