Cabbage isn’t just for serving alongside corned beef! It’s actually a very versatile vegetable and shouldn’t be relegated just to St. Patrick’s Day—here are some tips for choosing and using it.
You’ll find both green and red (purple) cabbage in stores. When buying green cabbage, look for heads that are firm and heavy for their size with leaves that lay tightly on the head. Check the stem end of the head to make sure there’s no cracking at the base, which is a sign of age. And avoid any cabbage that’s pale yellow-green in color—another indication of lengthy storage. Instead, look for heads that have a dusty green color to them. Heads of cabbage can be refrigerated for up to two weeks; if you plan to eat it raw in salads or coleslaw, use it within three or four days of purchase. And don’t cut or slice cabbage until you’re ready to use it—it will discolor and wilt if prepared too far in advance.
Because cabbage is so sturdy, it handles long simmering well, making it a flavorful addition to soups and braises. And because the leaves are often quite large, they’re perfect for wrapping around fillings of ground meat, rice or vegetables. Thinly sliced, cabbage can also be eaten raw —it’s traditionally served inside Mexican-style fish tacos and is, of course, a necessity for coleslaw.