Cabbage is one of the most versatile vegetables and is rich in vitamin C, fiber, and other essential nutrients. It’s an excellent addition to salads, soups, and stir-fries and is the key ingredient in probiotic foods like kimchi and sauerkraut.
Yet, every now and again, you just want something new. Fortunately, there are plenty of leafy alternatives that will add a similar flavor and texture as cabbage to any dish. In this post, we’ll look at 7 substitutes for cabbage that offer similar nutritional benefits but with a twist.
Kale is a part of the cruciferous family, well-known for its hardiness and nutritional value. Its flavor is mild yet earthy, making it the perfect substitute for cabbage. Kale also has a firm texture that makes it easy to handle and shape, so you can use it as you would cabbage in any dish.
You can use kale to make delicious wraps, stuff it with savory fillings, cook it into soups, or finely chop and sauté it with other vegetables. You can also cut the leaves into thin ribbons or shreds for salads, adding a bright flair to your meal. If you’re looking for something a little more indulgent, you can oven-roast kale with oil and herbs to intensify the flavor, making it a great side dish or salad topping.
Brocolli brings the same kind of crunchy texture to dishes that cabbage does, making it incredibly easy to use as a substitute for cabbage in any recipe. It is tremendously versatile as it can be steamed, boiled, stir-fried, roasted, or even eaten raw.
You can add broccoli to soups, stews, salads, and slaws, or add it to pies or pasta. You can also add it to sandwiches or wraps. The broccoli florets are also great for roasting with some olive oil and salt for a unique side dish. Any way you choose to prepare it, broccoli makes a great cabbage substitute that truly won’t disappoint!
3. Brussels Sprouts
Part of the brassica family, just like cabbage, Brussels sprouts closely resemble cabbage in appearance, texture, and flavor — just in smaller forms. As small, tightly-packed little cabbages with a mild, earthy taste, Brussels sprouts can be prepared in a variety of ways to substitute for cabbage in various dishes.
With its natural affinity for other vegetables such as onions, garlic, and mushrooms, Brussels sprouts make for a great base for vegetable stir fries and salads. It also pairs nicely with meats such as bacon and poultry for more hearty dishes. When cooked properly (steamed or roasted), Brussels sprouts are a wonderfully satisfying way to get your daily serving of vegetables in without compromising on taste.
4. Bok Choy
Bok choy is a type of Chinese cabbage and is part of the mustard family. It is also one of the most popular vegetables in Chinese cuisine. It has a milder flavor than many other cabbages, yet it still packs a punch.
Bok choy is fantastic as a substitute for regular cabbage in soups and stir-fries. It’s also especially good in chow mein and hot pot recipes because it absorbs all of the flavors of the other ingredients while preserving its own distinct crunchy texture. You can also add it to salads or roast it with olive oil and spices for an easy side dish.
5. Collard Greens
Collard greens have an earthy flavor that is similar to cabbage but with a slightly more bitter aftertaste. They are also loaded with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals and fiber, making them a great substitute for traditional cabbage dishes.
Steaming collard greens and adding them to salads or sandwiches, for example, can be a tasty alternative to classic cabbage meals. You may also cook them in stir-fries or sauté them with garlic and other veggies to make a tasty side dish. Collards may also be used to offer a nutritious and fresh source of protein to soups and stews. Moreover, they are often substituted for tortillas in wraps or quesadillas as a healthier alternative.
6. Romaine Lettuce
Much milder in taste compared to the peppery cabbage, Romaine lettuce is known for its crisp texture. It is also very versatile and can be used in any dish that would otherwise call for cabbage. It has a neutral taste that’s perfect for absorbing flavorful dressings and sauces, allowing you to get creative in your cooking.
You can finely chop it and add it to salads and stir-fries or in soups, stews, or as a side dish like sauteed or boiled greens. Romaine lettuce is also great in wraps or tacos paired with diced tomatoes and peppers, grated cheese, and any other combination of your favorite ingredients.
The crunchy texture of the lettuce will add a whole new dimension to your wrap! You can also use its longer leaves as a tasty wrap for anything from grilled chicken and avocado to spicy shrimp with mango salsa.
A member of the nutrient-rich Amaranthaceae family, the flavor and texture of spinach make it an ideal substitute for cabbage in most recipes. Its bright green leaves are packed with fiber, vitamins A and C, folate, and iron. Plus, spinach is incredibly versatile, so it can be cooked in many different ways.
To prepare spinach like cabbage, just cook it in boiling salted water or stir-fry it with garlic, herbs, nuts, and vegetables like onions and peppers. Keep in mind, though, that it cooks faster than cabbage, so you’ll want to reduce the cooking time a bit. You can also use spinach raw in salads or sandwiches. It carries its flavor well, so you won’t miss the cabbage at all!