20 Healthful Cabbage Dinners and Sides 
5 from 1 vote

I love the versatility and incredible nutrition of cabbage! These 20 healthful cabbage dinners and sides will help you to incorporate this humble and inexpensive vegetable into more of your meals.

Two plates of a vegan cabbage and onion rigatoni dish are resting on a white surface. The pasta is garnished with flecks of green parsley.

I get so excited when I read about, think about, or prepare any recipe with cabbage.

Yes, cabbage. Within the vegetable kingdom, I know that cabbage isn’t always greeted with as much excitement as some of its neighbors.

Even among crucifers, cabbage is unflashy. It seems to receive less attention than broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.

There is no reason for this, however. Cabbage more than holds its own in nutrient density when compared to those vegetables. In some ways, I think that it has greater versatility than they do when it comes to texture and preparation styles.

Cabbage is available year-round where I live. But I feel a special kind of appreciation for it in the deep winter, when it’s one of the few vegetables that is fresh and abundant at the farmer’s market.

There’s nothing I love more than finding myself at home with a giant head of cabbage, thinking about what I’ll prepare with it. I know that I can easily use for two or sometimes even three cabbage recipes.

Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite cabbage dinners and side dish recipes with you. May this winter be a time to celebrate cabbage in all of its forms: crunchy, tender, raw, cooked, savory, and sweet!

I’ve divided this cabbage deep dive into sections:

  1. Cabbage vegetable family
  2. What does cabbage taste like?
  3. Raw vs cooked cabbage
  4. Cabbage nutrition
  5. Types of cabbage
  6. How to cut up a head of cabbage
  7. How long can I store cabbage for?
  8. 20 vegan cabbage recipes
  9. Caramelized cabbage onion pasta

Before diving into recipes, let’s chat a bit about what cabbage is.

A small head of green cabbage is being cut on a white cutting board.

Cabbage vegetable family

Cabbage belongs to a family of flowering plants known as Brassicaceae. The vegetables in this family are also commonly known as mustards and, very aptly, the cabbage family.

When I was writing this post, I was confused about Brassicaceae (brassicas) vs. Cruciferae (crucifers), which is the other classification that I know of for cabbage.

Turns out, Cruciferae is just an older and alternative name for Brassicaceae.

“Cruciferae” is latin for “cross-bearing.” It’s a reference to the shape of the cross-shaped, four-petaled flowers that cruciferous vegetables produce.

Other Brassicaceae family members include:

  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Turnips
  • Rutabaga
  • Radishes
  • Kohlrabi
  • Bok choy
  • Collard greens
  • Arugula
  • Mustard greens
  • Brussels sprouts

These happen to be some of my very favorite vegetables to eat.

What does cabbage taste like?

Brassicas tend to have slightly bitter, sharp, and peppery flavors. I love this flavor profile, and I think it’s part of why cabbage is such a favorite of mine.

The beautiful thing about cabbage, though, is that its sharp bite can be entirely transformed with cooking.

When you braise, simmer, sauté, or roast cabbage for enough time, it’s pepperiness and bitterness give way to a lovely, deep sweetness of flavor.

While I enjoy the assertiveness and crunch of raw cabbage, I also love to bring out this sweet side of its character.

Raw vs. cooked cabbage

One of the nice things about cabbage is that it has so many culinary uses in both its raw and cooked forms.

Raw cabbage

In its raw form, cabbage is delightfully crunchy and crisp. It can be sliced or shredded very thinly or left a little more thick, for more texture.

When I prepare raw cabbage, I typically use my food slicer for ease and uniform slicing. However, you can also use a food processor or simply a sharp chef’s knife for this job.

Here’s just a small sampling of the cabbage recipes that you can create with raw cabbage:

  • Salads
  • Traditional coleslaw and other slaws
  • Shredded cabbage for crunch in tacos or burritos
  • Cabbage ”cups” for beans, tofu, tempeh, whole grains, or other nutritious fillings
  • Sauerkraut or lacto-fermented cabbage

Cooked cabbage

Cooked cabbage becomes tender and sweet. It has wonderful range in recipes!

Cabbage can be cooked with many different methods. You can roast, sauté, steam, or bake it. Steaming cabbage will help the vegetable to retain a bit of its crunch and freshness.

Sautéing and roasting cabbage will allow the vegetable to release its assertive quality and crunchy texture. The longer you cook cabbage, the more mellow, sweet, and soft it will be.

Cabbage nutrition

As a registered dietitian, it’s hard for me not to become comically enthusiastic when I write about the remarkable nutrient density of cabbage.

Cabbage is chock-full of so many powerful micronutrients and phytonutrients. These include the following, but aren’t limited to them.

Vitamin C

A single cup of shredded cabbage contains more than 50% of the adult RDA of Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid.

Ascorbic acid is an antioxidant, which means that it can help to guard against oxidative damage and its associated inflammatory effects. Ascorbic acid is also important for overall immune function, as well as absorption of iron from food.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin that’s necessary for the production of two important proteins. One is prothrombin, which plays a key role in blood clotting.

The other is osteocalcin, which is produced by osteoclasts in our bones. Osteocalcin plays a role in metabolism and is increasingly thought to play a role in cognition and reproduction, too.

There are two naturally occurring forms, or vitamers, of Vitamin K. One is a group called menaquinones, often labeled as Vitamin K2. Menaquinones can be obtained through some animal foods as well as natto, or fermented soybeans.

The other is phylloquinone, also labeled as Vitamin K1. Phylloquinone is supplied abundantly by brassicas, cabbage included!

Phytosterols

Phytosterols are a type of plant compound that has a similar molecular structure to cholesterol.

For this reason, they compete with cholesterol in digestion pathways, essentially blocking cholesterol absorption. Phytosterol consumption has been shown in studies to have the effect of lowering total and LDL cholesterol.

Cabbage is a good source of phytosterols generally. Chinese cabbage, one type of which is also called Napa cabbage, is an especially good source.

A close up image of a cross-section of cut red cabbage.

Anthocyanins

Anthocyanins are a type of pigment that’s found in red, purple, and blue fruits and vegetables. Accordingly, red cabbage is an excellent source of anthocyanins.

This is good news, because anthocyanins are, like the Vitamin C that’s also in cabbage, antioxidants.

Their antioxidant activity helps to explain why anthocyanins have been associated with protecting the cardiovascular and nervous systems, both of which are susceptible to oxidative stress.

Anthocyanins are associated in particular with neuroprotective properties, which means that they may have a positive impact on neurological health and the prevention of cognitive decline.

You may have read at some point that blueberries are a positive food choice for those looking to boost brain health, and this is why.

Similarly, the anthocyanins in red cabbage may help to support longterm cognitive health and function.

Glucosinolates

Glucosinolates form from cabbage and other brassicas, including kale, broccoli, and arugula. They’re sulfur-containing plant compounds that contribute to the bitter taste we tend to associate with these cruciferous veggies.

Like anthocyanins, glucosinolates are increasingly being studied for their potential to support cardiovascular and neurological health through combatting oxidative stress.

Glucosinolates become bioactive when brassicas are broken down through chewing or chopping. This is a reason to chew your cabbage slaws and slice or chop your cabbage before cooking it!

Fiber

Finally, cabbage is also a great source of dietary fiber, which contributes to digestive health and satiety after meals.

Dietary fiber also plays a role in helping to lower LDL cholesterol, which is the “bad” cholesterol associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

The Vegan Week

Embrace the joy of eating homemade food every day with the hearty and wholesome recipes in The Vegan Week.

Whether you have three, two, or even just one hour of time to spare, The Vegan Week will show you how to batch cook varied, colorful, and comforting dishes over the weekend.

Types of cabbage: green vs. red vs. Napa

There are apparently over 400 varieties of cabbage grown worldwide. Here are the ones that I most commonly use in my recipes, and which you might encounter most often in stores:

Green cabbage

Green cabbage comes in globe-shaped heads, which can range in size from small to large (bigger than a human head, for sure).

This type of cabbage grows throughout the United States. In the Northeast, where I live, green cabbage is abundant in colder months, but it can usually be found easily year-round.

Green cabbage can be eaten raw or cooked. It’s generally inexpensive, and, as we’ve seen above, it’s highly nutritious.

If you see a head of green cabbage that seems to have very wrinkled leaves, there’s a good chance that it’s savoy cabbage. Savoy cabbage is a green cabbage variety that’s named for the Savoy region in France.

A white pot is being used to braise vegetables. It rests on a white surface.

Red (or purple) cabbage

Is it red or is it purple? I’m sure I’ve used both designations on this blog, but usually, I refer to it as red cabbage.

In any case, this variety of cabbage can range in color from a deep, dark purple to bright and almost fuschia.

Red cabbage is often used for pickling and braising.

From a taste and culinary perspective, I think you can use red cabbage interchangeably with green cabbage. Simply be aware that the color will bleed out as red cabbage cooks, so it might turn soups, stews, or pasta dishes a slightly muddy, purple color.

On the other hand, raw red cabbage can add a beautiful crimson pop of color to salads more.

Napa cabbage

Napa cabbage isn’t the only type of Chinese cabbage, but it is a type of Chinese cabbage, and it’s often referred to as Chinese cabbage.

The name “napa,” however, is actually Japanese in origin. Nappa (菜っ葉), in colloquial/regional Japanese, describes edible leaves of any vegetable.

Napa cabbage has long, thick stems and crispy, slightly curly leaved tops. I love sautéing it for use in stir fry dishes.

Napa cabbage can also make a really good slaw, especially those crunchy, green top parts of its leaves.

When I went to Korea in 2019, I learned that napa cabbage is also the main type of cabbage that’s used to make kimchi throughout the country.

How to cut up a head of cabbage

Maybe the one thing I don’t love about cabbage? It can be tough to break down for slicing, shredding, or cutting into wedges. Especially if it happens to be one of those enormous heads of cabbage.

With that said, the end result—tons of cabbage for eating right away or cooking—is well worth it.

This is a good tutorial on cutting cabbage up.

How long can I store cabbage for?

Cabbage will stay freshest if you store it whole, rather than cut. It should be stored in the fridge, and it’s best to keep it in a produce or silicone storage bag, if you have one large enough to fit it.

Stored this way, cabbage can keep in the fridge for 10-14 days.

Cut cabbage should be wrapped tightly with plastic wrap to protect the cut side. It should keep in the crisper of your fridge for about 5 days once cut.

20 Healthful Cabbage Dinners and Sides

Now that we’ve covered the ins and outs of this wonderful crucifer, let’s talk about recipes!

Here are 15 of my favorite, healthful cabbage dinners and sides.

Dinner recipes

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Rice, Lentils, and Currants
These vegan cabbage rolls are stuffed with a mixture of rice, lentils, currants, and spices. They're flavorful, filling, and a perfect dish to make for entertaining!
Two stuffed cabbage rolls are laid out, side by side, on a plate. One has been cut into and the filling is spilling out.
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Spicy Roasted Broccoli Kimchi Noodles
These vegan kimchi noodles feature spicy roasted broccoli and two forms of cabbage: fermented kimchi and crunchy, raw red cabbage. The noodles have a variety of textures and pack a big punch of flavor! This is a colorful, vibrant noodle dish to meal prep for you work week lunches.
A dish of roasted broccoli kimchi noodles has been piled into a gray, ceramic bowl. The noodles also contain bright red cabbage.
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Vegan Borscht Recipe
This vegan Borscht recipe from Anya Kassoff's book, Simply Vibrant, is as nourishing as it is beautiful to look at! The cabbage becomes meltingly tender with slow simmering, and the soup has so much depth of flavor. Serve with some hearty bread for a perfect winter lunch.
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Brown Rice Lentil Stir Fry with Peanut Butter Sauce
This quick, easy vegan brown rice lentil stir fry will become your go-to weeknight dinner! Lentils and rice meet shredded cabbage, carrots, and broccoli in a nutritious plant-based meal. Make the stir fry complete with a versatile and delicious peanut butter sauce.
A dish of cabbage, broccoli, whole grains, and legumes has been plated in a ceramic bowl that's resting on a light gray colored cloth. There's a small bowl of peanut sauce near the bowl.
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Tempeh Tostadas with Citrus Slaw
These tempeh tostadas are easy to prepare for a fresh, high-protein breakfast or lunch. Sautéed tempeh strips are topped with a zesty, citrusy slaw of cabbage and carrot and served on crispy, baked corn tortillas.
Tempeh Tortillas with Napa Cabbage Citrus Slaw
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Chickpea Burrito Bowls
These vegan chickpea burrito bowls are easy to meal prep and so delicious! They feature chickpeas that have been seasoned with salsa for almost instant flavor, along with tender rice and crunchy cabbage and romaine lettuce. Top them with my creamy cashew queso sauce for a vibrant and filling meal.
A close up, overhead image of a vibrant and colorful vegan chickpea burrito bowl. It's topped with a creamy cashew-based sauce.
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20 Healthful Cabbage Dinners and Sides: Cabbage Onion Pasta
This caramelized cabbage & onion pasta is one of my favorite winter comfort food dishes! It's deeply savory, a little sweet, easy to make, and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Plus, 20 cabbage dinners and sides that show off the versatility and incredible nutrition of this humble vegetable!
Two plates of a vegan cabbage and onion rigatoni dish are resting on a white surface. The pasta is garnished with flecks of green parsley.
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Spicy Cabbage Chickpea Soup
A warming, nourishing bowl of plant-based goodness, this vegan spicy cabbage chickpea soup is simple to prepare and features a spicy kick.
A bowl of spicy cabbage chickpea soup rests on a folded, gray linen napkin.
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BBQ Soy Curl Sandwiches with Cabbage Apple Slaw
These vegan BBQ soy curl sandwiches are made with a crispy and tangy cabbage apple slaw. The sandwiches have it all: protein, crunch, and tons of flavor. Serve them on your favorite toasted burger bun for a hearty meal!
An angled photograph of a burger bun piled with vegan barbecue soy curls and a crispy cabbage slaw.
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Breakfast Macro Bowls
These breakfast macro bowls are proof that it's never too early in the day to eat your veggies! The bowls feature cabbage in the form of kimchi or sauerkraut, steamed greens, roasted vegetables, beans, brown rice, and a vibrant sauce. They're such a nourishing and grounding way to begin the day.
A vibrant bowl of vegetables, legumes, and cultured cabbage has been served in a gray plate. It rests on a white surface.
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Crispy Cauliflower Chimichurri Tacos
These crispy cauliflower chimichurri tacos are a vibrant, colorful, and gluten-free plant-based meal that are perfect for sharing with friends! Crispy roasted cauliflower makes a satisfying and nutritious filling. Shredded, crunchy cabbage adds texture, while a bright chimichurri gives these tacos tons of herbaceous flavor.
Crispy Cauliflower Chimichurri Tacos | The Full Helping
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Salads and sides

Braised Red Cabbage
This is my favorite recipe for braised red cabbage! It's tart, salty, and a little sweet, thanks to the addition of sliced apples.
An angled photograph of braised red cabbage, resting on a white surface.
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Turmeric Slaw
This turmeric slaw recipe is a bright, fresh, crunchy celebration of color, texture, and plant-powered phytonutrients! Cabbage, carrots, greens, sprouts, and cilantro are brought together by a golden-hued turmeric tahini dressing. This is the perfect, colorful accompaniment to sandwiches, wraps, soups, and other simple lunch fare.
Turmeric Slaw // Choosing Raw
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Cauliflower Pomegranate Kale Salad
This festive salad is packed with healthful, plant-based ingredients! Spice rubbed, roasted cauliflower, pomegranate seeds, kale, and cabbage make it a nutrient dense option for holiday gatherings and celebrations. Easy to meal prep, and the leftovers keep well.
A shallow plate holds a festive, colorful salad of spiced, roasted cauliflower, raw kale, and pomegranate seeds.
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Carrot Miso Kelp Noodle Salad with Seared Tempeh
This carrot miso kelp noodle cabbage salad has the best mix of textures! Crunchy cabbage and kelp noodles meet tender, seared tempeh. A sweet and salty orange carrot miso dressing brings this colorful dish to life.
A vegan kelp noodle cabbage salad has been plated on a round, black matte plate. A small bowl of seared tempeh pieces rests to the top right.
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Vegan Kale Colcannon
This is a vegan version of traditional colcannon, prepared with kale or cabbage for extra nutrition! I love adding a vegan meat for extra protein and satisfaction. This dish is so cozy and hearty, and it's truly the best winter comfort food.
A ceramic bowl is filled with a creamy vegan version of colannon, studded with kale and plant-based sausage.
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Crunchy Red Cabbage Apple Slaw with Tahini
Nothing beats a great slaw recipe, and this crunchy red cabbage apple slaw is so unique! It features a tahini-based dressing, rather than vinaigrette or mayonnaise. The slaw also has shelled hemp hearts for protein and texture.
An overhead image of a crunchy slaw of apple and red cabbage, which is held in a small white bowl.
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Spice Roasted Cabbage Steak Wedges
These spice roasted cabbage steak wedges will add flavor, nutrition, and substance to your plant-based plates! They're made with a spice blend of turmeric, coriander, cumin, and black pepper. The cabbage wedges steam cook before they finish roasting, which gives them incredible, tender texture. Serve them with whole grains, a vegan protein, and a drizzle of sauce for a wholesome meal.
A wedge of spice-roasted cabbage steak is resting on a small, round plate, drizzled with some white creamy sauce.
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Perfect Winter Chopped Salad with Pumpkin Seed Peppercorn Dressing
This is the perfect vegan winter chopped salad! It has a wonderful contrast of textures from raw, chopped carrots, celery, and cabbage mixed with tender, roasted sweet potatoes. Plus, you'll fall in love with the zesty, creamy pumpkin seed peppercorn dressing.
A serving bowl contains a colorful, plant-based kale salad.
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Super Simple Very Green Soup
This super simple, very green soup is a warming, cozy way to get your greens in! It can be made with any green vegetables that you have at home, including green cabbage, broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, kale, chard, spinach, collard greens, and more. It's easy to make and so healthful.
A bowl of vegan green soup has been garnished and plated in a white bowl. The bowl rests on a white surface.
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Caramelized Cabbage Onion Pasta

There’s much that I love in so many of the recipes above. But there’s one cabbage dinner on the list that I love and make more than any other.

It’s a warm, savory smoky dish of caramelized cabbage onion pasta.

A plate of tube shaped pasta with caramelized cabbage and onion has been garnished with chopped green parsley.

Since I first prepared the pasta dish in 2019, I’ve made it so many times.

The cabbage pasta is especially craveable in the winter months. It’s so hearty.

Plus, I love the way that sautéed onion and cabbage create sweet contrast with the savory and smoky flavors of the dish. This pasta includes a pinch of smoked paprika and also crispy tempeh bacon.

A sheet of white parchment paper has been used for baking dark brown slices of vegan tempeh "bacon."

When all of the ingredients—pasta, sweet and browning onions and cabbage, plant-based bacon, maybe a pinch of fresh herbs—come together, the effect is comfort food magic.

Cooked pasta has just been added to a skillet with sautéed vegetables.

For all of cabbage’s many uses, one doesn’t see it in pasta recipes all that often. If you’ve never tried cabbage pasta before, this recipe is a really fun place to start.

Two plates of caramelized cabbage onion pasta are resting on a white surface. Each has been lightly garnished with chopped parsley.
5 from 1 vote

20 Healthful Cabbage Dinners and Sides: Cabbage Onion Pasta

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter (14g; substitute olive oil)
  • 1 large yellow or white onion
  • 1 pound green cabbage (455g; about 1/2 medium-sized head of cabbage, or 5-6 cups)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (240ml; more as needed)
  • 8 slices tempeh bacon (or 4 slices store-bought vegan bacon of choice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (substitute 1 teaspoon sweet paprika)
  • 8 ounces medium-shaped pasta of choice (225g)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 splash white balsamic vinegar (Optional and to taste; red balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar is also fine)
  • 4 tablespoons chopped, fresh parsley (or as needed)

Instructions

Prep your vegetables

  • Cut the onion in half and slice it thinly. Chop, shred, or thinly slice the cabbage (you can use a food processor to speed this step up).
    Vegetables have been prepared for a pasta recipe. They're laid out in clear bowls on a white surface.

Caramelize the onions and cabbage

  • Heat the oil or butter in a large, roomy skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion.
    White onions are thinly sliced and about to be sautéed in a gray frying pan.
  • Cook, stirring every now and then, for 8-10 minutes, or until the onions are gently browning and translucent.
    A gray frying pan contains lightly browned onions.
  • Add the bacon and sauté for 1 minute more.
    A white frying pan holds vegan bacon and caramelized onions.
  • Add the cabbage, 1 cup vegetable broth, and smoked paprika.
    A large gray sauté pan has just been filled with sliced cabbage.
  • Continue cooking the vegetables for 10 minutes, stirring often, or until the onions have darkened and the cabbage is very tender. If the vegetables get at all dry, add a few extra splashes of broth.
    Cabbage, onions, and vegan bacon have been cooked down in a large, gray sauté pan.

Prepare the pasta

  • While the onions and cabbage caramelize, cook the pasta according to package instructions. When the pasta and vegetables are both ready, drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water. Add both the pasta and a half cup the pasta water to the skillet.
    Cooked pasta has just been added to a skillet with sautéed vegetables.
  • Warm all of the ingredients through. Taste, and then add salt, pepper, and/or vinegar to your liking. If the mixture gets a little dry, add some more of the pasta water. Serve the pasta, with chopped parsley if you like.
    A caramelized cabbage & onion dish has just been prepared in a large, gray skillet.

Hope one or two of these recipes will give you inspiration to incorporate a truly wonderful vegetable into some new, everyday meals!

xo

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