Monday 23 May 2011

Cabbage, this month’s vegetable

a majestic looking cabbage
What to make with cabbage, apart from coleslaw or sauerkraut? This question came to mind when I decided to introduce The Vegetable of the Month. As I’ve already mentioned here before, I take part in a farmer’s bag scheme from Nina’s school. The only problem is that I can end up with too much of the same thing sitting in my fridge drawer. It’s seasonality at its best. At the moment, it’s cabbage - very much in season and abundant in the bag scheme.

Cabbage is often seen as “boring”. I used to think like that, myself, until I found out that this is an amazing nutrient-dense vegetable. Cabbage is considered the king of the cruciferous family, which also includes broccoli, Brussel sprouts and cauliflower. It has been part of the regular diet in some cancer treatment institutes for many years. This could be linked to the fact that the cruciferous family contains more phytochemicals with properties that fight free radicals and prevent its damage than any other vegetable group. Not so boring now, ay. (Read more about cabbage benefits below.)

Since my college years, when I learnt these facts, I have developed a great respect for cabbage and its relatives, and have started to include them in many recipes.
Nutritional aspects aside, I also found out over the years that there are great ways of transforming this, let’s say, not-so-excitingly-tasty vegetable into lovely, quick, and easy dishes. Here is one of them.

Some of the ingredients.
Shredded cabbage, carrot and a bunch of fresh coriander.
Stir fry the vegetables.
Mash the garlic with ginger and add peanut butter and tamari sauce.

My noodles with cabbage and peanut butter sauce!
Noodles with cabbage and peanut sauce  - Serves 4

A quick and easy nourishing meal.


2 garlic cloves + 1 sliced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated

4 tbsp organic peanut butter
2 tbsp tamari sauce
Juice of 2 small limes or 1 big one
1 teaspoon of maple syrup

60-65 ml hot boiled water
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil

250g buckwheat noodles

1 small cabbage (approx 350-400g), sliced or shredded

2 carrots, grated

Furikake seasoning * (optional) or gochugaru

A handful of fresh coriander and chopped toasted peanuts


In a pestle and mortar, mash 2 garlic cloves with the ginger until it looks like a paste. Add the peanut butter, tamari sauce, the lime juice and the maple syrup. Add the hot water to loosen the sauce. Adjust seasoning to your taste (you may need more maple syrup etc).

Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet. When the noodles are ready, rinse under cold water, reserve.

In the meantime heat the oil in a wok or in a large frying pan and add the remaining chopped garlic for a few seconds, until it releases its aroma. Toss in the shredded cabbage, stir fry for 2 minutes, add a splash of water until it starts to wilt. Add the carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes. 

Add the noodles to the stir-fried vegetables, pour the peanut butter sauce over them, mix gently and serve with coriander leaves, roasted peanuts and furikake seasoning.

*Furikare is a Japanese seasoning made of black and white sesame seeds and seaweeds. Gochugaru is also known as Korean red chilli.

Some of the ingredients and their healthy benefits

Cabbage (Brassica oleracea): Cabbage soup is used to alleviate cough and treat the common cold. It moisten the intestines, improves digestion and is often used to treat constipation. Cabbage juice is an excellent remedy to treat stomach ulcers (half cup full drunk three times daily for two weeks). It is also known as the beautyfing mineral. Cabbage contains high levels of calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin K and vitamin C. You can use it externally, as a poultice, to treat skin rash, wounds, varicose veins and arthritis. 
Fun fact: the Romans used to drink cabbage juice as a cure for their hangovers. All hail, cabbage! 

Peanut (Arachis hypogaea): actually, it’s not a nut but a legume which is related to pea, chickpea and lentil. It is a food high in protein and plenty of monounsaturated fat. It contains an antioxidant called resveratrol – the same you find in red grapes. Peanuts helps to lubricate the intestines and lower blood pressure. You can add peanuts to vegetable dishes for a bit more protein. Peanuts contain biotin (or vitamin B7, used for treating hair loss), vitamin E (prevents cell damage), and folic acid (or vitamin B9, which promotes hormonal health). It also has vitamins B1 (stimulates metabolism and promotes healthy appetite) and B3 (helps to lower high cholesterol). You’ll also find that peanuts contain magnesium (nature’s natural relaxant) and phosphorus (for healthy bones, teeth, muscles and nerves, and for stronger heart muscle).

Caution: Peanuts are often heavily sprayed with chemicals and synthetic fertilizers therefore choose the organic ones as they contain fewer chemical residues. Those suffering from candida/yeast problems; those overweight or treating cancer should avoid this legume as it slows the metabolic rate of the liver. If eaten moderately, it can benefit those with fast metabolism. Peanuts are susceptible to a fungus called aflatoxin - a well known carcinogen. Roasting peanuts is a way to provide protection against aflatoxin and also to increase digestibility. Peanuts are among the foods associated with allergic reactions. When people are allergic to peanuts or other nuts, the allergy tends to be severe. 

Carrot: previously mentioned here  

Garlic: previously mentioned here

Ginger:  previously mentioned here

Till next week!

1 comment

  1. Amei essa indumentária de gala do repolho! Que ideia genial, Margot! eu adoro esse vegetal...imagino agora, com esta receita toda sofisticada, amiga!!! Aqui em Portugal consumimos muito esse repolho "bicudinho" que tens na foto, mas com uma particularidade...este, aqui é chamdo "couve-coração"...repolho é aquele mais achatado, que forma uma bola nais fechada e consistente.
    Obrigada pela receita que tira o repolho dos bastidores e lev~-o pra ribalta!! Beijinhos!!


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