Types of Cabbages

  • 01 of 07

    Types of Cabbages

    cabbages
    Cabbages at Market. Photo © Kirk Weddle/Getty Images

    See the difference between cabbages—green, Savoy, red, Napa, bok choy, brussels sprouts—and learn what to do with them.

    No matter what type you buy, look for cabbage heads that feel heavy for their size and, except for Napa cabbage, have tightly packed leaves. While you don't want bruised or beaten up vegetables, you can peel off and discard the outer leaves, so they need not be pristine.

    You might also want to check out All About Cabbage and all of my favorite Local Foods Cabbage Recipes.

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  • 02 of 07

    Green Cabbage

    Green Cabbage. Photo © Molly Watson

    Basic. Solid. Compact. Long-lasting. Green cabbage is the Toyota (or Honda!) of cabbages. Use it in salads and slaws, stir-fry it, or long-cook it to bring out its essential sweet nature. Look for heads that feel heavy for their size (which can range from softball to almost basketball size), with tightly packed, moist looking leaves. The queen of slaw, green cabbage can stand up to even the heaviest, creamiest, or spiciest of dressings.

    Classic Creamy Cole Slaw calls for plain-Jane green cabbage,...MORE as does Beet and Cabbage Borscht and Grilled Cabbage.

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  • 03 of 07

    Savoy Cabbage

    Savoy cabbage
    Paul Williams - Funkystock/Getty Images

    Savoy cabbage is also known as curly cabbage. With ruffled, lacy, deeply ridged leaves, Savoy cabbages are perhaps the prettiest cabbages around. The leaves are more loosely layered and less tightly packed than green or red cabbage, although its uses are similar. It is delicious thinly sliced in salads or quickly stir-fried. Or, try it braised in butter.

    Yet Savoy cabbage is a bit more tender than other cabbages and works nicely as a fresh and crunchy wrap - try using it in place of rice paper or...MORE tortillas with your favorite fillings.

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  • 04 of 07

    Red Cabbage

    Red cabbage
    Achim Sass/Getty Images

    Red cabbage looks like green cabbage except, well, it's red. Or, to be more specific, it's a lovely magenta. Red cabbage heads tend to be a bit smaller than green cabbages but look for similarly tightly packed, moist-looking leaves and heads that feel heavy for their size. Red cabbage is delicious thinly sliced in salads like Red Cabbage Slaw, mixed into slaw with green cabbage, or cooked (this Caraway Red Cabbage is a personal favorite!).

    Note: red cabbage turns an odd blue color when cooked....MORE Mitigate this effect by adding some sort of acid (vinegar or lemon juice are common choices) when cooking it.

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  • 05 of 07

    Napa Cabbage

    Napa cabbage
    Susan McWhinney/Getty Images

    Napa cabbage is sometimes called Chinese cabbage or celery cabbage. Napa cabbage doesn't look like head cabbages. It has long light green leaves that flower off of thick, white stalks. It looks a bit like a cross between romaine lettuce and pale Swiss chard. It has a lovely mild flavor with a peppery kick that is delicious in salads or stir-frys. You can also turn it into spicy kimchi.

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  • 06 of 07

    Bok Choy

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    Baby Bok Choy. Photo © Timothy Hearsum/Getty Images

    Bok Choy (and its youthful friend, baby Bok Choy) has distinct leaves growing from a central stalk. It looks a fair amount like Swiss chard but with pale green stalks and leaves. It has a mild but bright cabbage-y flavor. Bok Choy is most often used in stir-frys, but braising also brings out its sweet flavor. Baby bok choy can be cooked whole, if you like, but all bok choy is perhaps at its best when the leaves are separated and cooked loose.

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  • 07 of 07

    Brussels Sprouts

    Brussels Sprouts On the Stalk. Photo © Molly Watson

    Brussels Sprouts don't just look like tiny cabbages, they are! They're usually sold loose, which is a fine and dandy way to buy them. But if you find them sold on the stalk, as pictured here, know that they will keep for several weeks if chilled.

    Trim the ends, peel off any dark green leaves from each sprout, and then you can make Roasted Brussels Sprouts or Sautéed Brussels Sprouts. If you insist, you can also make Steamed Brussels Sprouts. Or, keep it simple and just slice them into a Brussels...MORE Sprouts Salad.

    I will also happily admit a weakness for this Brussels Sprouts Pasta and have been known to trot out this quick Brussels Sprouts Soup on a cold weeknight.