Alison's Lunch

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Savoy cabbage and potatoes with pesto

Savoy cabbage and potatoes with pesto

I was inspired to invent this recipe when reading a letter from my friend Andi, who recommended a recipe from Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s The Italian Country Table. She adds broccoli and a potato to her pasta with pesto, and calls it “the King of pestos.” I had a beautiful Savoy cabbage in my refrigerator, aching to be eaten, and I had a brainwave that thin slices of cabbage would be fun to toss with pesto sauce, like spaghetti noodles! You can eat this on top of spaghetti, if you like, but I like it best just by itself—no noodles or Parmesan cheese, but just the potatoes added to the cabbage for heartiness. I think you’ll love the taste of the garlicky, sautéed cabbage with the pesto!

You can use commercially prepared pesto if you like—that does save a lot of time and effort. But I’ve included a couple of my pesto recipes, in case you have the time and desire to make your own. I use both the basil version and the parsley version—both are very nice. You’ll need to be more heavy-handed with the parsley pesto than the basil pesto, because it’s not quite as pungent and flavorful as the basil. The parsley pesto is still delicious, though, in its own right! And it’s quite a bit more economical, too, since parsley is generally a lot more affordable than basil.

Please note that the pesto recipes are for making big batches and then freezing flat in ziplock bags. If you’re just making pesto for this recipe, just make about one-third of a batch.

3 to 4 medium waxy potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (Butterballs, for example, or purple potatoes for a fun color contrast)
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
1 medium Savoy cabbage, halved, cored, and cut into ¼-inch slices
sea salt or kosher salt
Freshly-ground pepper
Pesto (make one of the following recipes, or use prepared pesto)

1. Drop the potatoes into boiling, lightly salted water. Cook until tender, 5-7 minutes. Drain the potatoes, but reserve the cooking water.
2. Meanwhile, sauté the garlic for a minute in the olive oil over medium-high heat, until fragrant, then add the cabbage strands. Add ½ teaspoon salt and saute until wilted and just tender. You may have to add a little water to keep the cabbage and garlic from sticking. Taste for more salt and add more as needed, plus some pepper. 
3. Scoop about ½ cup of the basil pesto (or ¾ cup of parsley pesto) into the bottom of a big pasta bowl. If the pesto is stiff, add a little hot potato water to thin the sauce to the consistency of heavy cream. Toss the cabbage with the pesto, then add the potato and toss again. Taste to see if you want to add more pesto. Add salt as needed, and serve, topped with freshly-ground pepper.

Basil Pesto
This makes a lot—about three times more than you need, so you can freeze the rest, if you like.

6 large cloves garlic
½ teaspoon salt
6 packed cups fresh basil leaves
10 tablespoons pine nuts
12-14 tablespoons best quality extra-virgin olive oil

1. In a food processor, chop the garlic with the salt.
2. Add the basil leaves and puree them.
3. Then add the pine nuts and process into a rough paste.
4. Add half of the olive oil, process again until as smooth as you can get it. Even if it’s not terribly smooth, it’ll still taste great!
5. Taste for salt, and add more as needed.
6. Scoop into 3 freezer ziploc bags and freeze them flat on a baking sheet.

Parsley Pesto
This recipe also makes more than you’ll need for the cabbage and potatoes, but you can very easily freeze the extra!

2 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
4 cups packed parsley leaves
½ cup pine nuts
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

1. In a food processor, chop the garlic with the salt.
2. Add the parsley leaves and pine nuts, and turn on the motor, beginning to grind the parsley. It’s OK if all the leaves aren’t incorporated yet.
3. While the motor is running, pour in the olive oil gradually. Let the blade run for a while to puree the mixture. It won’t be very smooth, but it’s hard to get the parsley pesto smooth, anyway—the leaves are kind of tough. 
4. Taste for salt, and add more as needed.
5. Use what you’d like for tonight’s dinner, then scoop the rest into a freezer ziploc bag and freeze flat.