I have for you today a simple but ridiculously tasty dish that has become a firm favourite in this house, not least because it requires so little effort to make.
The combination of buttery, peppery, al-dente greens with buttery, peppery, differently-al-dente noodles is, as I have already mentioned, ridiculously tasty. Bonus is that it reheats well with a zap in the microwave, and so the initial chore of all the chopping is offset with easy side dishes/meain meals for several days.
It is based on the Eastern European dish Haluski. This version has been tweaked from the original and traditional method of making which was, if anything, even easier to prepare, involving just one pot to bring it all together. The original has everything fried in butter – delicious! – but a bit much for me, so I’ve opted for steaming the cabbage (to keep the glorious colour), cooking the noodles separately, and then just using a pan to mix.
This version is vegetarian, but it can easily be embellished into a simple main meal – although I can happily eat this as a meal just as is – with the addition of some protein: bits of bacon/ham seems to be the most popular, but chopped, cooked chicken, chorizo, hardboiled eggs are also simple to stir through the pan just before serving.
I have used white cabbage, savoy cabbage and brussels sprouts (because I love them) to add interest in both colour and texture, although using just one is fine. The noodles are actually fresh pasta ribbons: again, any shape is fine, and on reflection, smaller pasta shapes would make the dish easier to serve/eat.
Aside from my tweaks above, there seem to be a couple of other ‘rules’ when it comes to Haluski, which I can also vouch for with this version, viz.
- Proportionally, have more cabbage than noodles.
- When coating the greens with butter, have them ‘catch’ a little (brown at the edges) which will give a fantastic flavour boost to the dish.
- Season generously with lots of black pepper.
Deviate from these at your peril!
Before we get to the recipe, a word or two about cooking cabbage – and indeed all brassicas.
- Cook/steam for no longer than 4 minutes.
Yes, I agree, this does seem a ridiculously short amount of time, but it is genuinely all you need. Any longer, and you’re heading into the realms of school-dinner-boiled-cabbage-funk aroma that we all know, to our horror. The greens end up cooked, with a pleasant texture on the teeth, and retain their glorious colour fantastically well.
Steaming is my preference, not only for the brightness of colour it is possible to retain, but it also prevents the vegetables from becoming waterlogged. Simply cut out any hard stalks (especially from kale, cavolo nero, Savoy) and shred the leaves finely, and halve or even quarter brussel sprouts.
Cabbage and Noodles
This is, essentially, a quantity-free recipe. Precise measurements are not required, and it will be all the more delicious – and quicker – without them.
fresh egg noodles or egg pasta
- Peel and chop the onions. You casn do this by hand and make the onion pieces similar in size to the greens, or you can thrown them into a food processor and blitz to a mush that will blend in with the rest of the ingredients. Both are fine.
- Melt some butter in a large pan (because everything with end up being added to this pan) and fry the onions until softened and golden, but not crisp. Be generous with the butter, but don’t go overboard (some especially rich recipes I’ve read end up using 250g or more) – about 50g is plenty.
- Prepare the greens by removing any hard stalks and shredding the leaves finely. Steam for 4 minutes and drain through a sieve.
- Cook the noodles in boiling water according to instructions and drain through a sieve.
- When the greens have drained, tip them into the butter and onions and toss gently to coat.
- When the greens are evenly coated with the buttery onion mixture, add in the noodles and combine. Add more butter to taste. You want everything nicely coated, but not swimming in butter.
- Season generously with black pepper and a little salt.
- Serve at once.