Italian Fontina-Cabbage Pasta Bake

>> Friday, January 15, 2016

Italian Cabbage-Provolone Pasta Bake

Last summer, my adorable niece, who is still about five years old in my mind, graduated from high school. She's the baby who made me an aunt for the first time, and I still remember crying when I got the call she was born. The whole family headed over to Ann Arbor for her graduation party.

This is the only picture I could find of the very large graduation party, and my niece is not in it. The Boy, however, is prominently displayed.

Because her little brother and I have birthdays close to the party date, we did a little celebrating, and then spread the circle wider to include my brother-in-law's sister and Joe and I think about three other people. And so my brother-in-law's parents Don and Adair, who I adore, gave Joe and I a new cookbook: Italian Country Cooking by Loukie Werle.

Italian Country Cooking by Loukie Werle.

I promised Don and Adair I would post some recipes, but life and rotator cuff surgery came between me and cooking. Finally, I'm posting a casserole. One casserole is all I've got, folks.

Cucina Povera is the simpler food that country people all over Italy enjoy rather than a Michelin-starred meal. It's the Italian equivalent of a hot dish at a Midwestern potluck. There are a lot of pasta-and-legume meals with tomatoes and greens filling in for high-priced ingredients. This book makes me want to grow a garden again, right in the middle of a January in Chicago.

So here you go. This will fill you up and keep you warm.


1/4 cup olive oil
2/3 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp sage, chopped (fresh is great if you have it)
10 oz rigatoni or penne pasta
1 large floury potato, like Yukon gold or russet, peeled and diced
5 cups savoy or napa cabbage, shredded
1 cup fontina or provolone cheese, shredded


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the pasta according to package directions, then drain and return to the pot with fresh water. Add the potatoes and boil 7 minutes more. Drain.

Heat the oil in a frying pan, then add the onions and saute until tender. Add the garlic and sage and cook, stirring, until sticky. Add 1/2 cup hot water and the cabbage and saute until tender.

Grease a 9x12 casserole dish and add the cabbage mixture, pasta and potatoes, and half the cheese. Stir, then top with the other half of the cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serves 4-6.


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