This weekend on the Market Report, Laura Avery interviews Amelia Saltsman, author of the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market Cookbook. She suggests this heart-warming and budget friendly pasta that utilizes winter cabbage. When selecting cabbage at the market Amelia looks for heads that are heavy for their size. She likes either Savoy cabbage or heirloom Wakefield Jersey cabbage for this preparation. The key is cutting the leaves very thin so they melt into a creamy sauce. You can easily make this vegetarian by taking out the bacon and using vegetable stock or water.
Keep reading for her recipe…
Winter Pasta with Cabbage and Bacon or Not
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Choose cabbages that are heavy for their size. Common heading cabbage, bumpy-leafed Savoy cabbage, and cone-shaped heirloom Wakefield Jersey cabbage are all good choices for this cozy winter pasta meal. Cured or smoked pork pairs well with cabbage, but you can skip it for a satisfying vegetarian dish. This topping is also delicious over polenta or other cooked grains.
1 2-pound green cabbage
¼ to ½ pound diced pancetta, slab bacon, or ham
1 onion, chopped, OR 1 bunch green garlic, cut crosswise into small pieces
1/2 to 1 cup stock or water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ pound pasta, such as garganelli or penne
½ cup or so freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Quarter and core the cabbage. Shred the cabbage as you would for coleslaw. If desired, cook the cabbage in boiling salted water for 3 minutes and drain. (This will help it melt faster in the next step, and will also remove any sharp “cabbage-y” flavors, which really shouldn’t be an issue at this time of the year and if your cabbage is very fresh.)
In a wide pot large enough to hold all the ingredients, brown the pork product of your choice in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Remove the meat to a bowl. Pour off excess fat if you’ve got more than a tablespoon or two in the pot. Add onion or green garlic and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally to scrape up any brown bits. Stir in cabbage and ½ cup stock or water. Cover pot, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the cabbage reaches desired tenderness, about 20 minutes for tender but holding its shape and about 45 minutes to almost dissolving. Stir occasionally during cooking time, reducing heat and adding stock or water as needed if the mixture starts to stick. Return meat to the pot.
Cook pasta in generously salted boiling water. Drain noodles, reserving about half a cup of starchy pasta cooking water. Add noodles and a little of the pasta water to the sauce and cook over medium heat to thicken and blend flavors. Stir in cheese. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
© 2013, Amelia Saltsman.