Friday, October 14, 2005

Pasta with bacon, onion, tomato and cabbage

My husband is not a big cabbage fan but I love it sliced and sauteed. We got a big head of it in the last CSA delivery, and I needed to use it. I found this recipe for pasta with bacon, onion and tomato, and it seemed like a good accompaniment to cabbage.

Chop up some bacon, maybe four slices, and crisp them up in a dutch oven (I love my Le Creuset). Pull the bacon out with a slotted spoon and drain off most of the fat, reserving it for use with the cabbage. Put some water on to boil for the pasta. Add the onions and cook over medium heat until they are nice and brown (don't rush this step; you may need to add some reserved fat), then add about some dry white wine or vermouth and a big can of chopped tomatoes, drained, or two fresh plum tomatoes, chopped and seeded. Add some red pepper flakes to taste and some salt. Cook it down over medium for about five minutes, then add the bacon back in and lower the heat to low.

Slice up a half-head of cabbage into ribbons, no more than a half-inch thick. I discard the really thick pieces because they'll never be edible, but if you like your cabbage really crunchy and like to be uncomfortable the next day, go for it. Add some bacon fat to the skillet and put it over high heat. Put the ribbons in the hot fat, lower the flame to med-low and use tongs to turn the ribbons, like you would sautee greens or spinach. Add the pasta, like farfalle or penne, and some salt to the pot of boiling water. Time it so the pasta and cabbage are done at the same time (the cabbage shouldn't be on the heat for more than ten minutes or it will get that nasty overcooked cabbage taste that no one likes). Drain the pasta, reserving about a cup of the cooking water.

Add the pasta to the onion/bacon/tomato mixture; add whatever pasta water is necessary to keep the mixture saucy, then add the cabbage. Blend it all very well; don't be shy, and add in a good amount of parmesan cheese. The trick to this dish is to blend the flavors. Don't overcook the pasta or the cabbage, and everything should be good. It's a great savory fall dish with lots of taste and crunch. It makes about three generous servings. I've never had leftovers and my thought is that leftovers wouldn't be pretty.

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