The middle of March brings lots of Cabbage into the grocer’s produce stall for the upcoming St.Patrick’s Day making of Corned Beef and Cabbage. It’s a winter vegetable and it’s in large supply right now. Did you know that in Italy the word for cabbage is VERZA? Consider this a lesson in expanding your horizons with regard to what you thing IS or ISN’T Italian. Cabbage is used throughout Italy especially in the north of the country yet nowhere as popular as it is in the Northern and Eastern European nations. Yet it still shows up in many regional Italian dishes. This pasta dish I developed is not me recounting a regional dish. Instead I created it in my kitchen but it is in no way unique, maybe my approach to it is, but Cabbage and Sausage dishes with rice, beans or Pasta are to be found in Italy. One head of cabbage yields quite a bit, especially if it is chopped or shredded. Let’s have some fun with this dish and you’ll be serving it in your own home real soon!
SERVES: 4 to 6 TIME: 50 minutes
1 lb. PASTA, my preferred for this dish is PENNETTE
4 SWEET ITALIAN FENNEL SAUSAGES, MEAT REMOVED FROM ITS’ CASINGS
1 MEDIUM ONION FINELY DICED
1 1/2 CUPS FINELY CHOPPED CABBAGE
1 14 oz CAN ITALIAN CHERRY TOMATOES or 1 CUP OF CRUSHED SAN MARZANO TOMATOES
3 TBS EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
1/8 CUP DRY WHITE WINE
KOSHER SALT, FRESH GROUND BLACK PEPPER
2 CUPS RICOTTA
1 CUP COARSELY GRATED PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO
In a dutch oven heat 2 tbs of the Olive Oil. then add the onions, a pinch of salt and let them gently cook for a good 5 minutes. Add the sausage meat, stir and let this cook till the sausage is browned, about 8-10 minutes. Add the cabbage, a pinch of salt and mix well. Let this saute’ for 5 minutes, then add the wine. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and let it cook for 8 minutes. Now add the tomatoes crushing the whole ones with the back of a spoon. Add salt to taste and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and let this cook down for 35 minutes on medium-low heat. There should be no hard boiling going on. At this point the sauce should have good down a bit. Stir frequently. Check the sauce for seasoning and thickness, there shouldn’t be a ton of sauce in that pot. Remove from the heat. Cook the pasta according to the package directions but only cook until al dente, this is so important. Drain reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water in case you need it. Now add the fully drained pasta to the sauce and return to the heat on low for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and the remaining tbs. of Olive Oil. Serve with a side bowl of ricotta, ground black pepper, and more Parmigiano-Reggiano. A delicious dish with starch, meat, and vegetable all together.