Take a Peek at Martha's Cabbage Patch—Plus, Try Her Favorite Cabbage Recipes
Cabbage, or kapusta, as we called it growing up, played a memorable role in our family meals in Nutley, New Jersey. My grandmothers, who both emigrated from Poland in the early 20th century, brought their cherished recipes with them, and Mom added her own as she became a better and better cook. The six of us Kostyra children devoured these eastern European dishes, like Mom's cabbage pierogi (our favorite!), cabbage soup, buckwheat-stuffed gołabki (aka cabbage rolls), homemade sauerkraut, sautéed or braised cabbage (made from both red and green varieties) and of course, the creamy, vinegary slaws she made for our big family picnics.
Our vegetable plot in Nutley always had large, hard white cabbages—Mom's pick for pierogi—and the plain green ones she used for her gołabki. When I started my own garden, I planted a range of different kinds to try in the kitchen. For instance, I found that large, flower-like Savoys are perfect for stuffed cabbage—not to make traditional rolls, but to layer whole leaves over the filling to re-create a head of cabbage. This is a beautiful way to elevate a peasant meal to an elegant entrée.
Every winter, I look through catalogs from companies like Johnny's Selected Seeds and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds to find unusual hybrids to cultivate. I start the seeds indoors as individual plants, and then move them to the garden after the last frost in May. Like other vegetables in the Brassica genus, cabbages are easy to grow and healthy for us. They're a good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, and contain antioxidants and a range of B vitamins, as well as vitamins C and K.
I hope you will join me on the cruciferous bandwagon, and try these delicious recipes. I promise you'll like them!
Whole Stuffed Cabbage
Shredded Cabbage Slaw with Ginger Vinaigrette
A Bold Bounty
To harvest a "Red Dragon" cabbage like the one shown here, Martha cuts the stem above the first layer of outer leaves with a sharp knife.
Minestrone with Cabbage and Anelli
A Vibrant Variety
Martha grows a mix of Asian, Savoy, green, and red varieties of cabbage including "Bilko," "Caraflex," "Deadon," and "Red Dragon" in rich soil that's kept evenly moist.