Here’s something I’ve learned in the last week or so that I’m sure will continue to frustrate me for the next few months as the days get shorter and shorter – my camera does NOT take very good photos (of food) in my kitchen when it’s dark outside. My kitchen gets fantastic natural light, so when I cook in the daytime my food always looks pretty great. But when I’m dealing with flash settings and dull overhead lights, not so much. So bear with me, and maybe I will figure out some new camera settings or even get a new camera that is a little more adjustable. But for now, be forewarned that the lighting in these photos (and surely many photos to come) is not spectacular.
Above is a screenshot of the recipe I’m about to tell you about – it’s from an issue of Canadian Living magazine from about a year ago, and I photocopied the recipe when I was home for Thanksgiving last year. I made it shortly thereafter, during my brief stint of eating meat again, as it calls for bacon. It was definitely delicious with bacon – as is everything. But last week, when I got potatoes (again!) and a green cabbage in my CSA, this was the first thing I thought of, and was sure it would still be tasty without the bacon.
Basically, this recipe amounts to a macaroni-and-cheese-like casserole with potatoes and cabbage in it. And bacon, if you eat meat. I realize that I JUST posted a pasta recipe with potatoes in it, but what can I say, I’ve been getting a lot of potatoes in my CSA and have also strangely been craving pasta more than I usually do. This recipe is totally simple, just a little bit time consuming because things like potatoes and cabbage can take awhile to cook. I also don’t really recommend making this recipe if you don’t have a wok or a really large frying pan of some sort, because it takes up A LOT of space. This is one of the few recipes that I keep my $6.99 wok from Ikea around for. The recipe is linked up there, but basically you want to cut your potatoes into bite-sized pieces and boil them until they’re tender (but not totally mushy, since they’ll get baked soon) in broth – I use veggie broth from my homemade bouillon, but it would work just as well (or better?) with chicken broth.
When you drain your potatoes, reserve a cup of the broth you cooked them in, and save it for later. Meanwhile you’re sauteeing some onions in butter – or in your bacon fat if you’re using bacon, which if you are you should have already fried and set aside – and then you’ll add in about 6 cups of thinly sliced cabbage. Yadda yadda yadda, there’s more sauteeing and at some point you add that leftover liquid and a bunch of spices, then later you add the potatoes, and so on. Like I said, I’ve linked the recipe, but basically the idea here is to get the cabbage nice and soft and browned, and then add in the potatoes and saute it all together for a few minutes. Since I wasn’t using bacon this time I figured I needed something a little meaty and delicious to replace it, so I threw in a portobello mushroom that I had in my fridge – this was totally delicious and I would do this again.
At some point during the time you’ve been frying your cabbage, you’ll want to put the pasta on to boil. I did this as soon as the potatoes were done boiling, and just used the same pot without washing it. The recipe calls for egg noodles, and I’ve used egg noodles both times, so I’m not sure how it would be with other pasta, though I’m sure it would still be great. But since this is a large casserole and it uses basically an entire small bag of egg noodles, you’re not going to end up with leftover egg noodles lying around for months or anything. The sauce for this casserole is the easiest thing in the world – it’s a 500g tub of cottage cheese. That’s it. You puree it so it becomes smooth, and that’s your sauce. I’ve been really into these easy cheesy casserole sauces lately, even though I think that bechamel and other roux-based sauces are beyond compare. A few months ago I made a cheesy casserole whose sauce was just cheddar cheese melted into sour cream in a bowl over the pot the pasta was cooking in. GENIUS! Anyways, the first time I made this I pureed the cottage cheese with an immersion blender, but this time I used my fancy new mini food processor. Toss the cheese with the cooked pasta, and mix it all up with your cabbage-potato mixture.
Spread it into a 9 by 13 pan (totally worth investing in a good Pyrex one), sprinkle with more cheese (I used parmesan) and fresh parsley and bread crumbs if you want and/or have them around, and bake it for 20 minutes at 400. It’ll come out looking like this:
Now, it looks like a lot of food, especially if you’re making it only for yourself and a skinny beanpole boy, but it is really very easy to eat large quantities of this. I definitely had seconds (and thirds? I can’t remember) and have spent the last few days trying to remember what expression it is that Mara always says when food makes you want to eat a lot of it and thought about how this casserole is very moreish, a word Mara tells me is a British thing (Mara’s sentence example: The mustard pretzels were moreish).
Anyways, this is delicious, and total fall comfort food. Cabbage is awesome, if you didn’t already know, particularly when it is cooked in butter. And you will likely have at least a little bit of leftovers, and this reheats very nicely for lunches when you come home from running errands and are thinking “Wahh! I’m so hungry I have nothing good to eat!” and then are ecstatic when you remember this is waiting for you in the fridge.