Fresh Now: Organic Napa Cabbage from Moondance Farm

Our Produce Department is filled with dozens of types of fresh, local, organic fruits and vegetables. Visit us now and pick up some fresh Napa cabbage from Moondance Farms, an organic family owned farm and homestead nestled in the foothills of Mount Baker, just south of Acme, WA. Farmers there harvest vegetables, fruits and herbs year-round, including many heirloom varieties.

One of humankind’s oldest cultivated vegetables, cabbage is not only used for food, but also medicinally. The nutrients contained in different varieties of cabbage vary a bit, but in general they’re an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K and a good source of riboflavin, thiamin, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A and protein. Cabbage is a very good source of beta-carotene, fiber, manganese, folate, vitamin B6, potassium and omega-3 fatty acids.

Source: Vegetarian Times

Know Your Cabbage

There are at least a hundred varieties of cabbage, but the main types in the United States are green, red, Napa and Savoy. And whether you prefer robust or milder flavors, there’s a cabbage recipe for you—from coleslaw to sauerkraut and stews.

  • Green cabbage is the roundish, large, heavy head cabbage most familiar to American cooks. Often used to make sauerkraut and cabbage rolls.
  • Red cabbage is dark red or purple and smaller than most green cabbages. Use it to add vibrant color and a bit of sweetness.
  • Savoy cabbage varieties have a compact head and curled, light green to bluish green, wrinkly leaves. These tender leaves have a mild, earthy flavor.
  • Asian cabbages (Brassica rapa) are related to the Western cabbages described above. Napa cabbage, also known as Chinese cabbage and celery cabbage, is perhaps the best known of the Asian cabbages. Long and light green, it looks a bit like romaine lettuce. It has a mild and slightly sweet/peppery taste. Bok choy is a mildly flavored Chinese white cabbage.

Cabbage in the Kitchen

Cabbages combine nicely with other vegetables, especially sturdy ones like beets, turnips, celery root, kale, carrots and bell peppers. While there are plenty of traditional slaw recipes, the addition of unexpected vegetables and unusual seasonings transform them beyond the everyday. Porcini Marinated Grass-Fed Beef with Charred Napa Slaw, is a prime example, where marinated, grilled steak is served with a side of unexpected slaw.

Cabbage can make any soup or stew hearty enough for a main dish. There’s no reason to limit yourself to one cabbage per dish, either. Red and green cabbages complement each other perfectly in slaws and salads. Flavorings that pair well with cabbages include horseradish, caraway, cumin, coriander, mustard, black pepper, fennel, savory, anise and celery seeds.

For a sensational, pungent condiment or side, try making your own Spicy Kimchee with napa cabbage, Sriracha, daikon radish, ginger and garlic. Shredded cabbage is a great addition to green salads and stir-fries. It’s also standard in Vietnamese Spring Rolls. When folded with fresh carrots, bell pepper, cucumber and green onions, it makes for a colorful appetizer—cool and fresh, perfectly accompanied by a peanut dipping sauce.

A few cooking notes:

  • Cabbages can have a pungent odor when overcooked. Try steaming or lightly sautéeing.
  • Red cabbage can turn blue when cooked. Adding an acidic ingredient, like vinegar, will prevent discoloration.
  • Use a stainless steel knife to cut cabbage; a carbon steel blade will turn the leaves black.

Selecting & Storing Cabbage

Cabbages are available year round. When choosing green and red cabbages, look for firm, dense heads; the head should feel heavy for its size. On Savoy and napa cabbages, the heads can have some give. For all cabbages, the leaves should be as undamaged as possible. Remove any wilted or damaged outer layers, but the fewer the better. There should be only a few loose outer leaves.

Keep cabbages cold by storing them in the crisper of the refrigerator in a plastic bag. Red and green cabbages will keep for about two weeks, and Savoy will keep for about a week. To preserve nutrients, wash and cut cabbage right before eating. Precut or shredded cabbages are handy, but their vitamin C content is diminished.

“Million Dollar” Chinese Cabbage Salad

Photo & recipe adapted from allrecipes.com

Named for the large amount of sesame seeds used, this cabbage-rich salad is tangy, sweet and crunchy. If desired, add cooked chicken, mandarin oranges and/or pineapple chunks.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup white sugar (or other sweetener)
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 (3 oz.) packages ramen noodles (without flavor packets), lightly crushed
  • 1 head napa cabbage, chopped
  • 1/2 cup silvered almonds
  • 1 bunch green onions, rinsed and chopped

Directions:

In a bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, sugar, vinegar, garlic, ginger and soy sauce until the sugar has dissolved. Refrigerate the dressing while preparing the salad.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the broken ramen noodles, almonds, and sesame seeds onto a baking sheet. Bake the ramen noodle mixture until lightly browned, about 15 minutes, stirring often. Watch carefully to prevent burning. Allow mixture to cool. Just before serving, mix together the napa cabbage and green onions with toasted ramen mixture in a salad bowl until thoroughly combined; toss with the dressing.

Hot & Sour Napa Cabbage Soup

Photo & Recipe adapted from Vegetarian Times

Ready in 15 minutes or so, this simple dish makes a tasty accompaniment to many other dishes. Add sliced mushrooms, tofu, peanuts, meatballs, or root vegetables if desired.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 2 whole dried chiles de arbol, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (1 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 head napa cabbage, leaves cut into 1-inch-thick slices (2 lbs)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 green onions, green parts thinly sliced (2 tablespoons), for garnish
  • handfuls of bean sprouts for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Heat vegetable oil and sesame oil in large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add chiles, garlic, and ginger, and stir-fry 1 minute. Add cabbage, and cook 30 seconds. Stir in vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar, and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until cabbage is crisp-tender. Season with salt, if desired, and give one last shake or stir. Serve garnished with green onions.

By: Claire

ClaireClaire Harlock Garber loves to eat and drink and write about it. She has worked in the food industry for nearly a decade and was on staff at the Skagit Valley Co-op from 2010-2018, writing the regular columns Skagit Brew Corner, The Cheese Whisperer, The Bounty of Bulk, and What's Dippin' in the Well for the Co-op's blog, as well as articles for the Natural Enquirer newsletter.