Kale’s dominance as a health-halo darling may be coming to an end, as many operations are turning to a cheaper, equally tasty alternative—cabbage. Packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber, the low-calorie veggie is available in a number of varieties and colors. It’s a low-carb, gluten-free alternative that diners will not only feel good about ordering, but will enjoy eating, too.
The uptick in cabbage’s popularity is part of a greater trend toward stronger and more bitter flavors. “People are increasingly interested in trying foods on the opposite end of the spectrum from the sweet profiles that have dominated menus in recent years,” says Maeve Webster, President of Menu Matters, a consultancy focused on helping food manufacturers and foodservice operators analyze, understand and leverage trends.
Countless preparation options
With kale prices continuing to climb, cabbage, in all its forms, offers a more reasonable ingredient cost and year-round availability. It provides a blank slate for culinary creativity, with countless preparation and serving options. Cabbage can be cooked in soups, shredded into slaws and served hot or cold as a colorful side dish. Stuffed with grains or meat, stuffed cabbage leaves can be a popular entrée. When shredded and quickly blanched, it can replace lettuce in wraps, rolls or sandwiches. Some operations are even replacing higher priced kale chips with slow-roasted cabbage chips.
Fresh in winter
With many vegetables are out of season during winter months, cabbage can be a great fresh and local alternative for your menu. And cabbage offers more than taste and texture, because its colorful hues can be a welcome addition to an otherwise wintery-looking plate.
London food writer Sophie Morris chats with London’s most innovative chefs about how they’re using cabbage on their menus