Yesterday morning it was damp, but mild, a typical start to a winter day in the Pacific Northwest. I enjoyed a hot apple cider as I toured the U District farmers' market, inspecting produce and tasting cheeses. A Savoy cabbage caught my eye and I determined it would be the perfect size for two. With my free hand it was scooped into my arms, where the rugged lacinato kale and a bunch of carrots, their greens still attached, were held against my chest. On a small square table near the register, a basket was piled high with Brussels sprouts, some no larger than a nickel. I freed my arms to sort through the tiny cabbages, all the while deliberating how they'd eventually be prepared.
There were many ideas for the Brussels sprouts, but I knew my intentions for the Savoy cabbage. It was to be sliced thinly and sautéed in butter with a leek cut in the same fashion. Then, after being simmered in cream and stock, I'd stir in some peas and lemon zest just before pouring it over pasta. Now I can't remember how I came across the recipe, but it had been sitting atop the bread box for a couple weeks and there were almost all the ingredients in the house, sans the Savoy cabbage.
With the cabbage at home, we were set for dinner. After the butter warmed in the sauté pan, in went the leeks then the sliced cabbage. I waited until the cabbage had just taken on color, but next time it will be golden and slightly caramelized before the liquid is added. Off the heat, the zest was stirred in with salt and pepper to taste. The mixture was poured over the rigatoni and peas then carefully stirred so the sauce could be absorbed by the pasta, leaving not a trace of liquid in the pot. A sprinkling of salty and nutty Parmiggiano Reggiano crowned each bowl, acting as a counterpoint to the sweet green peas. Pasta always makes a satisfying weeknight meal, and this is no different, as the sauce is just completed as the pasta is moved to the colander.
Rigatoni with Savoy Cabbage and Peas
Adapted from Gourmet, October 2002
I can't figure how I got to this recipe, but thanks to the date stamp on the bottom of the page I do know its been in the kitchen since January 12. In addition to letting the cabbage caramelize, I've increased the amount of peas by 1/2 cup. We both love peas and Stahlbush Farms has an excellent frozen product to satisfy our cravings in winter.
1 pound rigatoni or other medium sized pasta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 pound Savoy cabbage, quartered lengthwise, core discarded, and leaves very thinly sliced
1 leek, white and light green parts thinly sliced (1 cup)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups thawed frozen peas
Grated zest of one lemon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Parmesan cheese, grated
Cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente
While pasta is cooking, heat butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté cabbage and leeks, stirring, golden at the edges, about 8 minutes
Add chicken broth and cream and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is tender, about 2 minutes
Remove from heat and stir in zest, salt, and pepper.
Ladle out 1/2 cup pasta cooking water and reserve
Drain pasta in a colander and return to pot with peas
Combine cabbage mixture with pasta and 1/4 cup reserved pasta water
If pasta looks dry, moisten with some of remaining water
Serve with grated parmesan