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Sunday, February 08, 2009

cabbage & carrots on pasta with toasted walnuts


vegetable prep

The other day I was selling our bread and handing out our vegetable CSA boxes, and a woman mentioned that she had made this recipe from the previous week’s Glacier Grist. She told me she wasn’t at all sure about the recipe as she was making it—it took a long time to chop all those veggies… “this had better be worth it!” she said to herself. “And how good can it be, anyway, cabbage and carrots?” I admit, not the most tempting sounding recipe. But she persevered (after all, she had the ingredients in her box), she made it, and LOVED IT! She was so happy that she’d tried it! Seriously, this is a fantastic recipe—it’s better than you could ever imagine with these humble ingredients…  in part because of all that chopping!

So this is a good time for a little veggie-prep encouragement. If you’d read my blog much, and/or have cooked my recipes, you’ll already know that most of my recipes are easy, but they do take a fair amount of vegetable preparation: chopping, dicing, slicing, and mincing. Recipes that use lots of vegetables and taste really great usually taste that way because of time spent preparing the raw ingredients. One thing that’s going to help you here is to have a good-quality SHARP KNIFE. I’ll admit, I’m lousy at sharpening a knife. But I refuse to cook with a dull knife. So I have one of those little hand-held knife sharpeners with 2 little blades set in a V-shape. Every time I start to cook (I’m not kidding—every time I set out to cut an onion), I pull that little sharpener out of the drawer, drag my knife over the V a few times, and Voila! a sharp knife. It makes all the difference. Using a dull knife is dangerous (the knife is more likely to slip and cut you), and it is NOT FUN to slice and dice with a dull knife. So, if you don’t already have a couple of decent knives, I’d encourage you to get yourself a decent 9” or 10” chef’s knife and a 4” paring knife, and keep them SHARP by using a sharpener obsessively. I promise, you’ll have way more fun in the kitchen.

cabbage & carrots on pasta with toasted walnuts

I love this recipe! Here’s another of my pasta recipes that has loads of vegetables and not so much pasta. Healthy, healthy, healthy! You can make this recipe with regular green cabbage or Savoy cabbage. The combination of sweet, browned onions, sweet Alaskan carrot slices, and the salty, toasted walnuts… it’s fantastically flavorful Fall food! It’s inspired by a recipe in rebar modern food.

One nice thing about this recipe is that you don’t need to put any cheese on it, because of the salty, roasty-toasty walnuts. Try it with just the nuts before you heap Parmesan on it!

½ pound whole wheat pasta, or buckwheat soba
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion (or 2 medium onions), diced
sea salt or kosher salt
6 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon red chile flakes
1 tablespoon dried sage (or ¼ cup fresh sage, minced)
1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme (or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves)
1 medium head green or Savoy cabbage, halved, cored, and cut into ¼-inch thick ribbons
½ to 1 cup vegetable stock, bean broth, or water
3 medium carrots, cut into thin half-moon slices
1-2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (optional)
freshly ground pepper
½ cup walnuts, toasted for 15 minutes in a 350-degree oven
1-2 tablespoons toasted walnut oil (optional—but I love to use Loriva oil)
½ bunch parsley, leaves chopped finely

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil to cook the pasta.
2. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté the onions with ½ teaspoon salt until golden. Add carrots and sauté for another couple of minutes, then add the garlic, chiles, and herbs for several more minutes.
3. Stir in the cabbage with another ½ teaspoon salt and the stock or water, and add enough stock to keep the cabbage from sticking in the pan. Continue to sauté the vegetables until the cabbage is tender.
4. Meanwhile, add a couple of tablespoons of salt to the boiling water and cook the pasta until tender.
5. Chop the walnuts coarsely and toss them in a small bowl with the toasted walnut oil (if using) and a generous pinch of salt.
6. Just before serving, taste the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar to taste, but don’t overdo it—you want to be able to taste the flavors of the vegetables and the toasted walnuts.
7. To serve, put a small mound of pasta on each plate, and mound a big pile of vegetables on top. Sprinkle with toasted, salted walnuts and chopped parsley.


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