Now I have to say cabbages may not be everyone’s idea of a fun or fashionable vegetable. But cabbages featured heavily in my Dublin childhood; indeed the Celts may well have dispersed cabbages through Europe from around 600 BC.
Boiled Bacon and Cabbage, the cabbage cooked in some of the bacon water for extra flavour, was a Dublin staple … delicious!
Cultivation : Cabbages are brassicas and do well in firm soil. It is important to rotate brassicas to help avoid clubroot. Liming the soil, to maintain a pH of 6.5 – 7 ,before planting may help. There are cabbages for spring, summer and winter and therefore they can be harvested at nearly all times of the year.Winter cabbage is sown in late April and planted out in June or July. Once the heads begin to form, give them a good soaking every 10 days if the weather is dry. Fine netting will keep the pigeons off . With a little planning you should be able to harvest them throughout the winter.
Health benefits : Cabbage is a good source of Vitamin C, manganese and has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The Vitamin C content degenerates after the cabbage is cut, so use up within a day or two.
Cooking : Steaming cabbage or lightly sautéing it may be beneficial as an anti-cancer agent – simply sauté shredded cabbage, covered, in a little vegetable broth for about 5 minutes, let rest for 2 mins before adding some sesame seeds and serving.
These are two favourite ways to cook it :
Colcannon (from the Irish cál ceannainn meaning ‘white-headed cabbage ‘).
8 large potatoes, peeled
1 Green cabbage, sliced
A bunch of spring onions/scallions, chopped
Few snips of chives
Boil the potatoes and then drain and keep warm. Wilt the cabbage in a little boiling water for about 5 minutes, drain, return to pan with a good knob of butter and keep warm. Now mash the potatoes, adding the spring onions and a half- cup of milk, keeping it all on a low heat. Add a good knob of butter.
Now mix in the wilted cabbage with the potatoes.
Add s & p and the snipped chives and turn out onto a warmed plate.
Enjoy the ultimate Irish comfort food!
Braised stuffed cabbage.
(This can be made using minced pork/sausagemeat, as below, or you could substitute meaty sausages,such as Lincolnshire, casings removed.)
6 large green cabbage leaves
500g pork sausagemeat or Lincolnshire sausages or similar.
5 or 6 sage leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
Home-made tomato sauce to serve
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan. Remove the tough central stalk from the cabbage leaves then pop them into a pot of salted boiling water for about two minutes. Remove, run under cold water, drain and dry well.
Heat the oil in a pan and sweat the chopped onion, adding the sage, and cook for about 5 minutes. Then add good quality sausagemeat (or the skinned sausages) and brown lightly. Allow to cool. Roll the cooled mixture into balls, ready to stuff the cabbage leaves.
Place the sausagemeat balls onto each of the cabbage leaves. Roll them up, tucking in the sides and place the stuffed leaves into a shallow oiled ovenproof dish, pour over the vegetable stock, cover tightly with foil and bake in the oven for 30 mins or so.
Can be served as a main course on a bed of home-made tomato sauce or as a side dish.