When I was a college student and had my first apartment, I made this dish several nights a week. It met all of my top criteria: fast, simple, and literally pennies per serving. Also, by dividing up the package of pasta, it was easy to make in single servings. Years later, I introduced Cabbage & Pasta to my family and was surprised that everyone liked it as much as I did (I thought maybe I was just being sentimental). If you are trying to eat more local, in-season vegetables, it’s good to know how to put cabbage to use. CSA members receive different varieties of cabbage throughout the year, and it lasts for several weeks in your refrigerator, so you are likely to have it on hand. Because you are also likely to have carrots and onions (and shallots, if you’re lucky) this dish is a great, last-minute, nutrient-rich comfort meal. I prefer making it with a thicker-leafed Tendersweet-type cabbage, as opposed to a softer Napa cabbage.
This is basically cooked cabbage and onions (or shallots) served on top of pasta.
I added carrot and topped with flat parsley because I had them, but you don’t have to. You can add regular or vegetarian sausage, slivered toasted almonds, or just eat it plain. What makes this yummy is the oil and butter, the crunch of the cabbage, and whatever you top the dish with at the end (my choice is lots of nutritional yeast, but you can also use freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano). Plenty of salt and pepper are key, and a pinch of chili pepper flakes helps give it a lift.
Cooking the vegetables will take about the same cooking time as your pasta. So start the pasta water, then start chopping and plan to cook the vegetables while the pasta cooks. Whenever sautéing vegetables, begin with the onions so they can soften and caramelize. Then, add the vegetables that will take longer to cook (like the carrots) and add the softer vegetables (like the cabbage) at the end. Keep stirring!
All measurements are approximate. Use your discretion on the ratios to suit your tastes.
1 cup diced onions or shallots (garlic optional)
3 cups thinly sliced cabbage
2 medium carrots (optional) — peeled and sliced in thin half-medallions
half a package of pasta
butter or vegan substitute
Toppings & seasonings
nutritional yeast or fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
kosher or flaky salt
chili pepper flakes
fresh ground pepper
fresh parsley, Arugula or other spicy green (optional)
drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil/additional butter/vegan substitute
Cook pasta according to package.
Chop vegetables. If your onions are mild, you can go heavier than if they are strong-tasting. Finely minced garlic is optional. Keep vegetables separate until you are ready to cook.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions/shallots and sauté for a few minutes. Add the sliced carrots. Keep stirring. Keep your eye on the onions/shallots so they don’t burn. Add oil as needed. Add garlic if using, then the cabbage.
When the carrots are beginning to soften, add a bit of water and put a lid on for the vegetables to allow them to steam a bit. Be careful not to steam the vegetables down too soft. It’s nice to keep some crunch. Add butter/vegan substitute to make your vegetable mixture creamy and keep them from burning. Lower the heat if needed.
When pasta is done, turn off, drain and set aside.
Turn off the vegetables when they are as soft as you’d like. Add coarse or flaky salt, pepper, and a pinch of chili pepper flakes to taste.
Plate up pasta and top with cooked veggies. Finish with a generous amount of nutritional yeast or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and probably a bit more flaky salt and pepper.
Optional: drizzle with a bit of extra-virgin olive oil or butter/vegan spread. Top with chopped fresh greens if using.