Serve cabbage on St. Patty’s Day

Cabbage is pretty much the perfect winter vegetable. The most common varieties of cabbage are green, red and savoy. Corned beef and cabbage, though it’s not a traditional Irish dish, it’s traditionally served on St. Patty’s Day in the United States.

Cabbage, even though it looks like a variety of lettuce, is a member of the Cruciferae family — the same family of vegetables that includes broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. If you’ve ever cooked it, you know that this is true. Nothing can smell up a kitchen faster than cooked cabbage. But don’t let the smell turn you off. Cooked cabbage has a slightly sweet flavor. It’s also packed with vitamins and minerals. Cabbage is naturally cholesterol free and an excellent source of vitamins C and K. It is high in fiber and a good source of iron, riboflavin and vitamin A.

Cabbage is at its best between December and March. It is inexpensive and stores well for a long time in the refrigerator. It is pretty much the perfect winter vegetable.

The most common varieties of cabbage are green, red and savoy. Green cabbage has dark green to pale green outer leaves and then is white on the inside. It’s what you’re probably most familiar seeing in the grocery store. Green cabbage is versatile. You can shred it and use it in slaw and salads. It is also great in stir-fries, soups, and slow cookers. Red cabbage looks like green cabbage except the leaves are reddish-purple. It is smaller than green cabbage and a little rubbery. It has a bolder flavor and is best for salads. Red cabbage can be cooked, just note that it turns an odd blue color when exposed to heat. But adding an acidic ingredient like wine, vinegar or lemon juice will keep it red. Savoy cabbage is also called curly cabbage. The leaves are green and have noticeable ridges and ruffles. Use it like you would green cabbage. It is tender and sweeter than green or red cabbage.

Steaming and sautéing are excellent ways to cook cabbage. More of the nutrients are retained when steaming or sautéing as compared to longer cooking methods. The smell is less noticeable too. The longer you cook cabbage, the stronger the smell. A great tip for reducing the smell is to cook cabbage just until tender and use stainless steel cookware.

Why not try some corned beef and cabbage this year for St. Patrick’s Day? Even though it’s not a traditional Irish dish, it’s traditionally served on St. Patty’s Day in the United States.

Cabbage Noodle Casserole

5 strips turkey bacon

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

6 cups cabbage, chopped into 1 inch pieces

3 cups whole grain egg noodles, cooked

1 cup reduced-fat sour cream

1 teaspoon paprika

In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove and set aside. Add oil, sugar, salt and pepper to the skillet with the bacon drippings. Add chopped cabbage and stir until coated. Cover and cook 7-10 minutes. Crumble bacon and add to cabbage. Stir in noodles. Spoon into a greased 2-quart casserole dish; cover and bake at 325º F for 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Spread sour cream over the top and sprinkle with paprika. Bake 5 minutes.

Yield: 6 (1 cup) servings

Nutrition Facts per Serving: 260 calories; 12g fat; 4.5g sat. fat; 40mg cholesterol; 720mg sodium; 30g carbohydrate; 5g fiber; 10g protein.

Editor’s note: The source of this article is Annhall Norris, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension food preservation specialist. The recipe was downloaded from the Plate it Up! Kentucky Proud project, a joint effort between the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service Family and Consumer Sciences and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

Reach Cecelia Hostilo, Trigg County Extension agent for family and consumer sciences, at P. O. Box 271 (2657 Old Hopkinsville Road), Cadiz, KY 42211, by phone at 270-522-3269, fax at 270-522-9192 or email cecelia.hostilo@uky.edu.

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