Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Eat Your Greens Pasta Bake

Sunday evening is roast night for us, so I felt we needed something vegetarian on Monday to compensate, and after all it is Meatless Monday.

My began thinking I would make a green risotto with leeks and wild garlic and lots of cheese.  But I decided I couldn't be bothered to stand at the cooker stirring that long so I googled pasta and cabbage, and eventually settled on a cross between Jamie Oliver's Italian Cabbage & Bread Soup and Nigella's version of the northern Italian dish Pizzoccheri.

The resulting dish is a kind of green risotto using up all the leftover greens from my fridge and small veg patch, including cabbage, leaks, and Swiss chard. I whizzed up the greens in the food processor in an attempt to hide them a little from the children.  Unfortunately it didn't work that well as although they announced they loved the pasta when they began eating, about 10 minutes later they mumbled that they didn't like the green sauce. I, however, thought it was lovely with lovely sweet  buttery herby cabbage.

If if you are an anchovy phobe, do try it at least once with these.  They give a lovely deep flavour to the dish and I swear you won't know there was anchovy in it.

The pangrattato (literally 'grated bread') topping is optional too.  I didn't do it for my kids last night as I tried it once on a Jamie Oliver Macaroni Cheese and it really didn't go down well.  But as Dad I ate the lion's share of this last night, I think it would have added a little extra something to the dish for grown-ups.

Serves 6
1 head of green cabbage or equivalent in other greens.  I used half a small head of green cabbage, one leek, handful of swiss chard.
Small handful of sage leaves
1 large garlic clove
50ml white wine
Large knob of butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tin of anchovies in oil (optional)
500g dried pasta
1 tsp stock powder (optional)
100g grated mature cheddar cheese

Pangrattato Topping  
1/4 tsp chilli flakes

zest of 1 lemon 
1 garlic clove
4 thick slices stale bread

Preheat oven to 200C.

Wash and finely slice (or mince) the greens, sage, and garlic.  Roughly chop the anchovies and heat these and their oil in a large saucepan.  Add the sliced greens, sage & garlic and leave to soften with the lid on for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes add the wine and leave again with the lid on for another 15 minutes to make sure the cabbage is lovely and soft.

Boil the pasta whilst the cabbage is softening according to the instructions on the packet.  Reserve 2 mugs full of the cooking water before draining.

If using, make the pangrattato topping by whizzing all the ingredients in a food processor until turned into bread crumbs.  Leave to one side.

When both cabbage and pasta are cooked, mix both together with the reserved pasta water in a large baking dish.  Sprinkle over with cheese and mix again, then sprinkle over the pangrattato.  Bake in preheated oven until crispy and sizzling.

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