It’s easy for cabbage to get lost in the produce section when it has to compete with spotlight-grabbing superfoods like curly kale, vibrant beets, and pretty little cauliflower florets. That’s a shame, considering this cruciferous veggie is just as nutritious as its “sexier” counterparts: Just half a cup contains almost 50 percent of your daily dose of vitamin C, plus it’s brimming with cancer-fighting, cholesterol-lowering, ulcer-curing compounds. Best of all, it’s super versatile and can be anything from a pizza topping to a low-carb noodle substitute.
Need proof? These 24 recipes show there’s so much more to cabbage than coleslaw.
Appetizers and Sides
Known for topping pita bread, za’atar (an aromatic Middle Eastern spice that contains plenty of cell-protecting antioxidants) is used here to coat red cabbage leaves, which are then roasted crisp and dunked into a lemony yogurt. This app may be lower in carbs than traditional chips and dip, but it’s just as addictive.
If all the stuffing, rolling, sealing and frying sounds too involved, here’s a low-maintenance solution that’ll satisfy your egg roll craving without all the work (and the greasy residue). Just dry-sear the wontons in a pan to get them crunchy before topping them with the sesame-flavored cabbage mixture.
With green onions, jalapeños, and cilantro, this is a pretty classic salsa recipe—except that shredded cabbage takes the place of tomatoes as the main ingredient. Paired with baked chips, this appetizer alternative is filled with bone- and blood-protecting vitamin K.
Higher in vitamin C than its green sibling, red cabbage makes this dish super nutritious, not to mention light enough to serve before a meal or along with a main course. Quantification of glucosinolates, anthocyanins, free amino acids, and vitamin C in inbred lines of cabbage (Brassica oleracea L.). Park S, Valan Arasu M, Lee MK. Food chemistry, 2013, Aug.;145():0308-8146. Use it to hold a high-protein mix of goat cheese and quinoa for a gluten-free dish that may just steal the spotlight from the entrée.
Another recipe that uses cabbage as a serving vehicle—but with a Mexican flair. Tomatoes, avocados, and black beans make for a hearty filling inside the leafy “bowls.” With healthy fats, filling protein, and fiber-packed carbs, the end product is both perfectly balanced and beautiful.
Just four ingredients and a single cooking technique can be enough to transform cabbage into a star. Brushed with a good-for-your-heart blend of garlic and olive oil, the wedges hang out in an oven until they’re a tad charred, slightly sweet, and completely delicious.
Known for its neuroprotective and antidepressant benefits thanks to the flavonoid apigenin, napa cabbage is the sole vegetable in this simple stir-fry. Seasoned with a sweet, spicy, and savory mix of soy and rice vinegar, it’s a quick, 10-minute departure from a regular ol’ salad.
Cabbage is anything but plain when tossed in butter, soaked in a German riesling (great for controlling blood sugar!), and kicked up with spicy mustard and fresh rosemary. If this is how they serve cabbage in Germany, sign us up for a trip across the pond!
Soups and Salads
Soaked in a fragrant coconut broth, shredded cabbage softens to an almost noodle-like consistency, making this dish perfect for those who crave that carby texture but want to keep things on the lighter side. Add plenty of herbs and spices like turmeric, lemongrass, and ginger to not only enhance the plainness of the veggies but also to up the antioxidant contents of this soothing soup.
A fantastic source of anti-inflammatory and vision-promoting anthocyanins, vibrant red cabbage makes this salad a gorgeous addition to your dinner table. Jazzed up with Asian flavors like rice vinegar and a touch of sesame oil, it’s crunchy, tangy, sweet, and spicy all at once.
This cabbage slaw gets its creaminess (and a whole lot of protein and gut-aiding probiotics!) from Greek yogurt, which also helps temper the spice of the chili sauce. Eat it on its own as a salad or serve alongside baked wonton chips for a scoopable starter.
Cabbage provides the most nutritional bang when raw or minimally cooked, so this fresh salad is a great way to make sure you’re getting all it has to offer. But don’t worry: You won’t be gnawing on bland, fibrous shreds. The cruciferous veggie teams up with carrots, bell peppers, and sunflower seeds, then gets doused in a just-sweet-enough dressing, kicking any misconceptions about boring raw food to the curb.
Looks like spaghetti; tastes like, well, cabbage! Spiralized (or shredded) strands add yet another source of fiber to this bean-heavy soup, providing tons of volume (yay for huge servings!) without weighing you down.
Richer than broth but not quite as decadent as chowder, this soup gets its creamy texture from potatoes, corn, and white beans. But cabbage still makes its presence known (an entire head of it goes into the recipe!), lending a contrasting crunch to the rest of the ingredients. The soup is also a great way to reap the disease-fighting benefits of curry powder’s curcumin without the cream and high-fat counts of most curries.
Mini, gluten-free versions of Japanese okonomiyaki, these cabbage pancakes have tons of fiber thanks, in part, to coconut flour. An innovative soy-yogurt dipping sauce adds a modern twist.
If you love cabbage rolls but don’t have the time to make them one by one, consider this deconstructed solution. Sauté typical cabbage roll ingredients, throw 'em in a dish, and call it a casserole! You’ll still get all the flavors in a single bite.
This dish proves cabbage knows how to make a statement. The flexible leaves of savoy cabbage (found to have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all varieties) envelope a hearty filling of meat, rice, and garlicky marinara. Easier than it looks, it’s guaranteed to wow any dinner guest.
Cabbage “noodles” make another appearance in this light yet filling one-bowl meal, adding nutrients like vitamin C that you wouldn’t find in regular pasta. Meanwhile, tofu bulks up the dish, and walnuts and coconut oil provide the fats needed to keep you satisfyingly full.
With less than 10 ingredients and requiring just one pan, this skillet dish is a quick meal that'll keep you from resorting to unhealthy takeout. A head of cabbage cooks down until soft but still crunchy, while beef (turkey works great too if you’ve hit your red meat quota) and plenty of lycopene-rich tomatoes simmer alongside.
Get to know the cabbage family even better by incorporating its mini cousin into your meal. Vitamin K-packed Brussels sprouts roast in honey and olive oil before being scattered over dough alongside red cabbage and toasted walnuts then baked to caramelized perfection. It's an unconventional pizza topping, but you may just start choosing it over pepperoni.
Cabbage doesn’t just have to substitute for pasta; it can also enhance it. Both ingredients shine in this hearty dish that gets livened up with lemon juice and sunflower seeds. It’s a fresh, fast, and delicious way to get your daily intake of fiber plus satisfy a carb craving.
We couldn't just pick a traditional cabbage roll recipe. And why would we when a dish like this appeals to herbivores and non-vegetarians alike? Wrapped in curly cabbage leaves and baked with tomato sauce, quinoa replaces beef as the protein source and, as a bonus, adds potassium and antioxidants. We promise nobody will miss the meat.