Simple recipes that highlight humble cabbage

Cabbage may not be the sexiest vegetable there is, but it sure is the tasiest — at least to me. It’s infinitely versatile and can be sweet or pungent and take on powerful flavors as well as delicate ones.

I recently wrote about my journey to come up with a cabbage dish that my partner would like, and the result is my Cabbage Mafé With Limey Cilantro Sauce, a spin on the classic Senegalese mafé stew made with freshly ground peanuts as the base of a rich braise. You see the cabbage in a skillet, build up its sauce, then combine the two for a long soak in the oven. The strong flavors of peanuts, chiles and fish sauce come through vividly, but so does that of the tender, sweet cabbage — it never shirks from the spotlight.

If you eat cabbage as much as I do, try out that dish and then move onto these other recipes that show the versatility of the humble crucifer.

For dishes that add heat to cabbage in more ways than one, make Yasmin Khan’s Charred Cabbage With Hazelnuts & Chile Butter (a great excuse to fire up the grill again) or Susan Vu’s Bun Bowls With Sautéed Cabbage, Mushrooms and Spare Ribs. I often make the latter recipe fully with sweet cabbage and use some leftover or store-bought pulled pork if I don’t have time to make the spare ribs.

For cabbage on the crunchier side, I love to make Genevieve Ko’s Nappa Cabbage Caesar Salad dressed with a shortcut, mayo-based dressing. And when I want something with a little more zest, I make Christian Reynoso’s Red Cabbage and Date Salad With Preserved Lemon and Pistachios. It’s the kind of salad that gets better the longer it sits, letting all the bright, sweet flavors marry well and soak into the shredded cabbage.

Cabbage Mafé With Limey Cilantro Sauce

This dish is a riff on Senegalese chicken mafé, using large, satisfying cabbage wedges but no meat. The sauce is made with peanuts that have been freshly ground into butter as well as fish sauce, but if you’re vegetarian/vegan, you can omit that or use a vegan substitute.
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Cook time: 2 hours.

(Ben Mims/Los Angeles Times)

Charred Cabbage With Hazelnuts and Chile Butter

In this dish, sweet hazelnuts are combined with a sweet pointed cabbage, commonly called hispi or sweetheart cabbage, which can be found in larger supermarkets or in Turkish or Asian grocery stores. Using a grill or grill pan gives you thick charred lines on the cabbage wedges but isn’t essential.
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Cook time: 40 minutes.

Charred sliced ​​cabbage sprinkled with hazelnuts and chile butter.

Bun Bowls With Sautéed Cabbage, Mushrooms and Spare Ribs

Chả giò (Vietnamese fried spring rolls) can be labor-intensive, so to get the same satisfying crunch with about a quarter of the effort, raw rice paper is shallow-fried until puffed and uber crispy and served with cabbage and mini king oyster mushrooms in this dish. Use 2 cups of any leftover cooked pork in place of the spare ribs, if you’re not making them.
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Cook time: 40 minutes.

Bun Bowls with Sauteed Cabbage, Mushrooms and Leftover Spare Ribs

(Lindsay Kreighbaum / For The Times)

Red Cabbage and Date Salad With Preserved Lemon and Pistachios

Dates get the slaw/salad treatment here, adding slivers of sweet and soft to the crunch and savoriness of cabbage in this dish. This goes great with pork chops, braised chicken or warm flatbread and labneh. If preserved lemon is hard to find, try substituting with sliced ​​wheels of kumquats tossed with ½ teaspoon of Diamond Crystal kosher salt.
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Cook time: 15 minutes.

Three bowls of Red Cabbage, Date and Salted Citrus Salad with wooden serving utensils

(Rebecca Peloquin / For The Times)

Nappa Cabbage Caesar Salad

Nappa cabbage has a mild sweetness that’s perfect in a salty, cheesy Caesar salad. The leaves stay crisp when coated with the dressing, which comes together in minutes. Mayonnaise is another shortcut to this dead-simple salad, combining the egg yolks, oil and lemon juice of the classic into one ready-made ingredient.
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Cook time: 10 minutes.

A bowl of Nappa Cabbage Caesar Salad with wooden serving utensils.

(Leslie Grow / For The Times)