Until a few years ago, I didn't think of cabbage as much more than sauerkraut, coleslaw, and a bed for sausage. But there's only so much slaw a girl can eat, and with 3+ pound heads arriving on a regular basis in my CSA boxes, I have to get a little more creative. There's certainly no lack of inspiration from cuisines all around the world, but I decided to start with something homey and comforting as I looked out on the first snowfall of the season.
Cabbage is delicious from raw and crunchy to slow-cooked and meltingly tender, absorbing flavors differently at each point on the spectrum. Cooking the cabbage in a generous amount of olive oil at a high temperature gives the cabbage a deep caramelized flavor while maintaining a bit of texture, a nice balance of the benefits of leisurely and quick cooking. The seasoned bread crumbs happily cling to every available surface, adding crunch, flavor, and savoriness to every bite. A generous helping of Parmesan ups the umami factor and adds a finishing richness that really brings this all together. Though certainly filling enough on its own, this dinner can be fortified for heartier appetites with the addition of grilled salmon or chicken and a salad on the side.
Pasta With Caramelized Cabbage, Anchovies and Bread Crumbs
adapted from the New York Times
5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 anchovy fillets
1/2 cup bread crumbs, preferably whole wheat panko
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, plus more, to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
8 ounces small whole wheat pasta (rotini, penne, etc.)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
8 cups shredded cabbage
2/3 cup grated pecorino or Parmesan
1. Mince one garlic clove. Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the anchovies and cook, mashing with a spatula, until they dissolve into the butter. Stir in the minced garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in the bread crumbs and sage and cook until bread is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Season with black pepper.
2. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until barely al dente. Drain.
3. While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining garlic and cook until golden brown. Add the chile and cook until fragrant. Stir in the cabbage and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Toss in the pasta and bread-crumb mixture and heat through, then quickly toss in the cheese and remove from heat. Season with salt and more pepper, if desired, and serve immediately.