Tear into these leaves from late fall through winter for the best results.


What to look for:

Buy an unblemished head with a crack-free stem.

Pick tightly packed heads that are heavy for their size.

Touch the outer leaves -- they should feel firm and crisp, and squeak when rubbed.

Store in your refrigerator's crisper drawer, snugly wrapped in plastic, for up to 1 week.

How to use it:

Toss shredded cabbage with a creamy dressing or tart vinaigrette for a crunchy slaw.

Stir-fry torn leaves for an earthy side dish.

Blanch whole leaves to use as wraps for a stuffing of wild rice and seasoned ground meat.

Quick-pickle shredded or chopped leaves in an acid such as vinegar or citrus juice for a crunchy counterpart to meat or fish. (Side note: Acids preserve the vibrant hue of red cabbage.)

Boil in chicken broth with white beans, cubed ham and onions for soup.

Add bite-size pieces of red cabbage to salads for a sharp bite.

Braise for a silken texture.