First things first - I have some friends to thank for this recipe. I didn't find this recipe on my own. Usually I am in charge of tracking down recipes, but this one was emailed to me by my friends Jay and Verna. Thanks guys! They told me it was a really hearty/homey recipe. And they were right. Those are exactly the words that I would use to describe it. I feel like cabbage is inherently hearty and homey. I'm not sure I can picture an elegant or refined dish that is cabbage-based (which isn't to say that cabbage isn't delicious). If you think about it, cabbage usually features in dishes like sauerkraut and coleslaw, not fine dining. But I'm not usually aiming for fine dining on a random Thursday night. What I really want during the week (for the most part) is to come home from work and cook a nice, not too complicated, tasty meal. It doesn't have to be fancy. And this pasta isn't fancy. It is comforting and homey, but it has great flavor. You get to experience the sweet cabbage, the salty/nutty bread crumbs, the spice from the red pepper flakes, the rich fruity taste of the evoo and the bite of the cheese. Yum. Alex says it reminded him of a pasta dish his mom used to make him with caramelized onions, only with more flavor (red pepper flakes and anchovies pack a wallop, one that neither of our parents experimented with regularly but one that we both enjoy). I was actually sad that Alex claimed the rest of the pasta for lunch today because I wanted it. And you know a dish is good when I go to the trouble of fighting Alex for the leftovers.
As a side note, I'm going to go ahead and call this recipe vegetarian, even though it contains anchovies. If you don't want anchovies you can leave them out, but I really like the salty, nutty flavor they impart. Speaking of anchovies, we are on a real anchovy kick this week because we used them in our Simple Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic, Onion and Anchovies earlier in the week.
Recipe after the jump!
Pasta with Caramelized Cabbage, Anchovies and Bread Crumbs
March 9, 2012
5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 anchovy fillets
1/2 cup coarse bread crumbs
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, plus more, to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
1 pound dry penne
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
8 cups shredded cabbage
2/3 cup grated pecorino or Parmesan.
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.
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.
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.