I've recently fallen in love with sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), so by extension I've fallen in love with cabbage. And not only because there are so many benefits to the cruciferous veggie.

Cabbage has been known to decrease inflammation. Why does that matter? Because a defense against inflammation of parts of your body can be a defense against heart disease, depression, and Alzheimer's. Cabbage and other cruciferous veggies have even been proven to reduce the risk of certain cancers. 

I think it's worth learning to love cabbage, even more so the fermented version as fermented foods have been shown to better physical and mental health.  herb, lettuce, cabbage, salad, vegetable
Allie Patenaude

My family has a tradition of a hearty pork and sauerkraut dinner on New Year's Day. The inclusion of homemade mashed potatoes and apple sauce takes it to another level. Though I usually do not eat the pork (as I try to keep consumption of meat to a minimum), I find lots of joy in the sauerkraut, mashed potato, applesauce combination. And I mean literally eating them all at once.

I've always quietly enjoyed this combo, begrudgingly avoiding the pork (the sauerkraut and the pork simmer all day in the crockpot, so the sauerkraut gets nice and tender and the pork falls apart), but this year I realized that sauerkraut and I have a lot in common: we both can be salty; we're healthy (ish); we're not incredibly popular, but, to those that do like us, we are addictive.

I spouted out that realization to my family, and they looked at me like I had gone nuts. But I did not care; I had found my soul mate, my spirit food. And we—well, I—fell in love. (I may or may not have consumed an entire can of sauerkraut that night and 156% of my daily value of sodium. The morning after was a little rough.) 

It is possible—even for people who do not personally identify with a form of cabbage—to fall in love with the vegetable. Chances are, your love story is gonna be different than mine. But here are eleven recipes to help you begin yours. 

1. Sauerkraut (my #1) 

sauce, vegetable, pasta
Sandy Li

Start with this healthy and super easy recipe for sauerkraut, and whip up some mashed potatoes (or mashed cauliflower if you're really feeling ambitious). If you don't have a frozen ziplock of your mom's homemade applesauce lying around, just throw some diced apples, coconut oil, cinnamon, and a little honey to taste in a pan and let simmer on medium heat until the apples are soft (mushy is totally fine). Not a big meat eater? Sauté a portabella or some white beans to pair with your perfect bite (s). 

#SpoonTip: Want to take it up a notch? Add some bacon drippings, sherry wine, and caraway to sweeten your sauerkraut in this Bavarian sauerkraut recipe. 

2. Cabbage Rolls 

beef, chicken, vegetable, pork, sauce, meat
Sandy Le

Stuff these rolls with fillings of your choosing. Here they're stuffed with ground beef and rice, but you can easily make this into a hearty vegetarian or vegan meal

3. Kimchi

pepper
Shelby McLennan

It's hip for a reason. Why not make your own authentic kimchi at home? You can up your kimchi game with these five recipes.

4. 15-Minute Asian Fusion Salad 

cabbage, salad, vegetable
Allie Patenaude

This salad stays fresh for a week! And it is also a really interesting, creative way to use uncooked ramen noodles. The salad is crunchy, sweet, and satisfying. 

Warning: you will want to eat the bowl, but the flavor intensifies as it sits in the fridge, so try to control yourself.

5) Vegetarian Sliders with Mango Cole Slaw

vegetable, meat, tomato, bun, cheese, lettuce, bread, sandwich
Miranda Reilly

Amp up your coleslaw with tangy lime and sweet mango. This recipe includes vegetarian "fishless filets" as the protein, but this would definitely work with a fried tofu patty or even sustainably caught fish. (I recommend using fish that's native to where you live, and is wild or farmed with polyculture methods.)

6. Vegetarian Couscous

rice, quinoa, spinach, kale
Summer Si

You'll be surprised by how easy this dish is to whip up. Purple cabbage adds crunch and flavor to fluffy couscous and tender kale. This would be delicious topped with chickpeas or hummus to add a little healthy fat and protein. Edamame would also be a great addition. 

7) Easy Shrimp Noodle Soup

spaghetti, vegetable, pasta
Elizabeth Kim

This article consists of mostly vegetarian recipes, but this one is such a winner, I had to include it. Simmer up a large pot of this soup to impress your friends. It's easy to make vegetarian-friendly: just sub tofu for the shrimp and veggie broth for the chicken broth. I highly recommend the substitution (there's a method to my madness). 

8) Roasted Red Cabbage Steak

This dish is both registered dietician-approved and extremely versatile. Add a little turmeric, cayenne, and paprika for some spice, or if you're in the mood for something more classic, add Worcestershire to the mushroom sauté and top with rosemary and thyme. I tried this recipe with green cabbage, and it was life-changing. The cabbage steaks fell apart like tender egg noodles. The mushrooms lent a meatiness that made me feel like I was eating a hearty pasta dish. A stroganoff sauce would take this to another level. 

9) Roasted Cabbage Wedges with Onion Dijon Sauce

meat, sauce, vegetable
Jami Boys

By cutting the cabbage into wedges and roasting them, you achieve crispy edges and a melt-in-your-mouth center that is subtly sweet. My mouth is watering just thinking about a creamy dijon sauce on top. Please go and make these now. 

10) Russian Cabbage Pie

It's as if a frittata and a cabbage had a baby -- and you will be glad they did. This beautiful Russian comfort food will keep you warm in the cold winter months. The flavors of dill and sesame seeds will waft through your kitchen and make it hard to wait thirty minutes to take it out of the oven. Be sure to check out Lydia's other recipes if you're interested in eating less meat and/or more veggies. 

#SpoonTip: Make it for brunch on Sunday and you'll have leftovers for the week.

11) Raw Tacos

cabbage, avocado, salad
Julia Maguire
Stick with your New Year's resolution by using cabbage as a vehicle for a spicy vegan walnut taco mix and fresh homemade salsa (and avo, of course) in this raw taco recipe. Switch up the wraps with a lentil sriracha mixture or some butternut squash, black beans, and cilantro. If you don't believe cabbage can save lives by now, at least believe that it is an incredible, healthier substitution for a tortilla. 

This is basically the ultimate guide for how to fall in love with cabbage, especially if you tend to follow a plant-based diet. If you’re still not convinced, let me know, and I’ll fire up my dad’s famous New Year’s feast for you.