Recipe Redux: Cabbage and Bow Ties

This is really exciting for me.  This is my first post as part of The Recipe ReDux.  I’m so excited to be part of this group and to be able to share my spin on some classic recipes.  When I found out that this month’s theme was “vintage sides,” I got even more excited.  Of course there are a million recipes that my family has been making forever.  Except, they’re pretty much all entrees or desserts.  Some of them I’ve even posted already.  But then I called my mom up and asked her, and she reminded me of a dish I vaguely remember from when I was young.

Some of my earliest memories of food and home cooked meals start with a visit to Brooklyn.  Brooklyn is where my Bubbie (read: Jewish grandmother) lived.  Well, both Bubbies lived there, but they had very different approaches to food.  My dad’s mother did not cook, but she knew that the way to a child’s heart is through pizza, so there was always hot, fresh pizza at her house for lunch.  My mom’s mother was the cook.  She cooked the most old school, traditional, Hungarian meals you have ever seen.  I remember whole roasted fish (head still attached), stuffed cabbage, and kakosh (a rolled chocolate dessert that is often compared to, but is not at all like, chocolate babka).  It was like she had never left the Old Country.

I used an old school grater in honor of this old school recipe
My mom often recounts fond memories of her mother’s home cooked meals in Slovakia (where my mom grew up).  Pretty much everything involved paprika and cabbage, and since there were so few modern conveniences, my Bubbie managed to make everything 100% from scratch.  And I do mean everything.  Like, if there was going to be chicken for dinner, that chicken came from the backyard earlier that day.  Yea, she was hard core like that.

One dish that my Bubbie made, and one that I vaguely remember from my forays to Brooklyn, was cabbage and bow ties.  This dish is simplicity at its best – pasta and cabbage.  It’s homey, comforting, easy to make, and easy on your wallet.  I’m sure my Bubbie made this as the main meal, mostly because there was rarely enough food or variety to have the luxury of sides, but I choose to treat it as more of a side dish.  I assume it would pair wonderfully with a piece of chicken or fish, but since I eat neither of these things, I had it with a polenta, mushroom, and squash tort, and it paired wonderfully with that as well.

When I discussed this recipe with my mom, I asked how Bubbie used to make it without boxed pasta on hand.  “She made the pasta herself,” my mom replied, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.  Well, as much as I love a culinary challenge, I’m going to be lazy on this one and go ahead with a box of pre-made stuff.  Call it my modern twist on this “vintage” side dish.  Even with the store bought pasta, this dish is still comforting and delicious.  It’s definitely a great side to go with any meal.

Cabbage and Bow Ties

Serves 4-6

1/2 head of cabbage, grated or shredded
1/2 box of bow tie pasta
2 tablespoons of oil, divided
1 onion, finely diced
2 teaspoons sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Once it’s hot, add the onion and sauté until they begin to darken in color, about 10-15 minutes.

2. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan, then the cabbage.  Mixing frequently, sauté until the cabbage is transparent, another 10-15 minutes.

3. While the cabbage is going, bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the bow ties until al dente, according to package directions.  Drain and set aside until the cabbage is ready.

4. Once the cabbage is transparent, mix in the sugar and add salt and pepper to taste.  Then add the bow ties to the pan and heat through.  Serve warm or room temperature.


10 Responses to Recipe Redux: Cabbage and Bow Ties

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  3. It might not be the most glamorous veggie, but I just love cabbage. It’s such a comfort food–just add a little bit of butter, salt, and pepper and I’m happy. I love the idea of adding it to pasta!

  4. First off, welcome to ReDux!! Loved reading this post because it reminded me of my Russian/Austrian Nana who married an Italian man and she could cook so we got to eat the best of 3 of those cultures. She made a similar dish with cabbage, sauerkraut and pasta – so simple yet so delicious. BTW, that kakosh dessert sounds divine.

  5. mmm this looks awesome! i love the story

  6. So interesting to hear about your culinary history 🙂 That does sound like simple food at its best!

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