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Food glossary

Cabbage

Cabbage

One of the best value vegetables available, there are many different types of cabbage including dark green leafy Savoy cabbage, white cabbage and red cabbage. Look for cabbage with a firm head and crisp, bright leaves without any holes or yellowing. White and red cabbage should be heavy for their size and the leaves should be closely packed.
Different types are available all year.

To cook: Cook in boiling salted water for 5 to 6 minutes until tender, steam for 6-10 minutes or stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes in oil over a high heat. Baby varieties of cabbage have more delicate leaves which can be lightly cooked.

Cavolo nero

Originating in Italy, cavolo nero looks like a Savoy cabbage, with thick curly leaves, which have a rich, slightly bitter taste.

Uses: Serve as an accompaniment to meat either on its own with seasoning to taste or with a sprinkling of olive oil.

To store: Keep in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.

To prepare: Trim out the thicker parts of the midrib from each leaf. Cut or break the leaves into several smaller pieces.

Chinese leaves

Also sometimes referred to as Peking cabbage, Chinese leaves are long slender leaves, pale green in colour. They have a very subtle cabbage flavour and a really crisp texture. Chinese leaves have the ability to absorb other flavours and are often combined with rich or strong-tasting foods.

Uses: Chinese leaves are a popular ingredient in Oriental stir-fries and are also included in many soups.

To store: Keep in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.

To prepare: Trim out the thicker parts of the midrib from each leaf. Cut or break the leaves into several smaller pieces. If using for a stir-fry the leaves are best finely shredded.

Curly kale

Also known as collard greens or borecole (from the Dutch for peasants cabbage) kale is a member of the cabbage family. It has coarse, frilly dark green leaves and a strong cabbage-like flavour.

Uses: Serve finely chopped or puréed as a vegetable accompaniment.

To store: Keep in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.

To prepare: Trim the leaves from the stalks and wash in cold water.

To cook: Place the leaves in a saucepan with just the water that clings to them, cook covered for 2 to 3 minutes until just wilted. Drain thoroughly in a sieve, using a saucer or the back or a large spoon to press out all of the liquid.

Dwarf green

With their tender leaves and attractive green colour, this mini variety of the ever-popular green cabbage can be used in a variety of ways.

Uses: Remove the large outer leaves from the cabbage, blanch and fill with a fruity rice stuffing, drizzle with olive oil and grill for 10 minutes or until tender. Serve with roast lamb or pork. Slice dwarf green cabbage and add the leaves to stir-fries or simply steam and serve with plenty of butter and black pepper.

To store: Keep in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.

To prepare: Slice and wash thoroughly in cold running water. To blanch the leaves for stuffing, place in a pan of boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes, then drain and plunge into a bowl of cold water to refresh.

To cook: Baby varieties of cabbage have more delicate leaves so the cooking time is less than for regular-sized types. Cook in boiling salted water for 3 to 4 minutes until tender, steam for 3 to 5 minutes or stir fry for 1 to 2 minutes in oil over a high heat.

January king

A traditional hardy winter variety of cabbage that has a subtle sweet flavour.

Uses: Serve as an accompaniment to stews and casseroles or add to soups and stir-fries.

To store: Keep in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.

To prepare: Trim out the thicker parts of the midrib from each leaf. Cut or break the leaves into several smaller pieces.

Kale

A member of the same family as cabbage, kale is a dark green leafy vegetable with a distinctive strong taste. The leaves can be flat or curly. The stem and leaves are quite tough and it is a hardy plant - it grows in cold climates where cabbages cannot.

Uses: As an accompanying vegetable. It is also included in Indian dishes, where its strong flavour is not overpowered by hot spices.

To store: Keep in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.

To prepare: Break the stalks off and cut out any tough stalk from the leaves. The leaves can be cooked whole or shredded.

Red

With its distinctive colour and mellow flavour, red cabbage adds a splash of colour to a variety of savoury dishes. It is available fresh and pickled in vinegar. Baby red cabbages are also available.

Uses: Often served pickled, red cabbage is also delicious added to stir-fries or salads. It is especially good baked and served as an accompaniment to beef or pork casseroles: prepare and chop 1 small red cabbage and place it in a casserole dish, with 1 chopped cooking apple, 1 chopped onion, 3 tbsp brown sugar. 3 tbsp wine vinegar and plenty of salt and pepper, cover and bake for 2 hours at 170°C, gas mark 3.

To store: Store in a dry, cool place or in the fridge for up to 1 week.

To prepare: Remove any wilted or discoloured leaves and chop the cabbage into quarters. Cut the tough stalk away and then slice or grate, rinse thoroughly before use.

Savoy

One of the best cooking cabbages, Savoy cabbage has distinctive wrinkled leaves and a loose head. It is a dark green colour and a mild flavour.

Uses: As an accompanying vegetable. The large leaves can also be stuffed with a savoury filling and baked.

To store: Store in a dry, cool place or in the fridge for up to 4 days.

To prepare: Remove any wilted or discoloured leaves and chop the cabbage into quarters. Cut the tough stalk away and then slice, rinse thoroughly before use.

Spring greens

These are the first cabbages of the year and are loose heads of bright green leaves without the hard core found in the centre of other cabbages.

Uses: Ideal for stir-fries or adding to soups. To serve as an accompaniment simply toss cooked leaves in black pepper and butter and serve with winter stews.

To store: Keep in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.

To prepare: Spring greens require little preparation. Simply remove the leaves from the centre, wash thoroughly and shred finely.

To cook: Take care not to overcook - simply steam until just wilted.

White or Dutch

A crisp and crunchy variety that is often served raw in salads and is the main ingredient of coleslaw - a classic salad which also contains grated carrot, onion and is mixed together with mayonnaise. Baby white cabbage is available.

Uses: Raw in coleslaw and other winter salads or cooked and served with black pepper and butter. White cabbage is used in the traditional German dish, Sauerkraut (a pickled shredded cabbage dish).

To store: Store in a dry, cool place or in the fridge for up to 1 week.

To prepare: Remove any wilted or discoloured leaves and chop the cabbage into quarters. Cut the tough stalk away and then slice or grate, rinse thoroughly before use.