Today at the farm we planted our fall crop of cabbage, broccolini and Napa cabbage. We pulled out the old plants and replaced them with the new transplants. While in the field, we realized that today marked something special. The first day that Simrat, Gurpreet, myself and our field manager Emily spent planting at the beginning season, we transplanted the broccolini, cabbage and Napa cabbage, in the exact same spot that we did today, which was our new team member Chelsea’s first day on the job. Because we sowed those plants during the last week of April, we are educated on the maturity length and have seen the plants complete a full cycle. These new cabbage plants will mature when the weather starts getting cold again, however the Napa cabbage is a faster crop and will be ready by end of august/middle of September.
Napa cabbage is also known as celery cabbage or Chinese cabbage and it quite beautiful and different from the cabbage we know from the early Europeans. Napa is light green in colour, with thick white stalks and crinkly leaves that can be yellow nearing the middle. The head grows in a cylindrical shape that is quite compact and the stalks have more water content then round cabbages. The vegetable is very popular in East Asia, where it is pickled, salted and added with ginger and chili flakes to make kim chi, the national dish of Korea. The flavour of Napa cabbage is mild and sweeter than that of regular green cabbage and will take on any flavour that is added to it, especially when used in a stir fry with oil and spices. We also use Napa cabbage raw in our salads at Wicklow Way. Last week for the CSA boxes we made an Asian salad mix with tat soi, green coin, a variety of chrysanthemum (which tasted like green mango) and chopped up Napa cabbage. The mix could be used raw or cooked in a stir fry. Napa cabbage is quite versatile and can be used finely sliced for an excellent coleslaw with shredded carrots, a great vegetable to make soups and stocks, or because the leaves are soft and large can be used to make wraps or stuffed for tacos.
Napa cabbage has an abundance of vitamin C and E, contains a lot of soluble fibre and is helpful for the function of a healthy GI tract. In addition it also lowers blood cholesterol and improves the strength of blood vessels. Like most vegetables that are consumed often, Napa cabbage can increase your skins glow, detox your body and apparently prevent cancer.
I personally had never purchased or consumed Napa cabbage until this summer and am now a very big fan of the H20 packed vegetable. I like to flavour it with lemon juice and sesame seeds, let it sit and quickly fry it, and place it on top of quinoa. I am going to constantly find new ways to use Napa cabbage, and I suggest you do too!