People always underestimate a head of green cabbage.

It just seems so unexciting, so never-ending, so totally forgettable. Its sister the red cabbage gets all the glory with its starring role stuffed into fish tacos or nestled underneath a good schnitzel.

Cabbage, Fennel, and Pancetta Pasta | Things I Made TodayOver the years though, I’ve learned to re-imagine cabbage. Instead of assuming 1990s American coleslaw, I try to learn from other cultures.

Cabbage, Fennel, and Pancetta Pasta | Things I Made Today

I’ve tossed it with fennel, cumin, and sesame seeds and served it alongside shrimp and rice in this Indian dish adapted from Madhur Jaffery. I’ve turned it into kimchi. I’ve layered it into a Russian salmon pie. Cabbage, I’ve learned, does not have to be boring.

Cabbage, Fennel, and Pancetta Pasta | Things I Made Today

Last week, with cabbages showing up in our CSA basket and Whisk, the Wisconsin food blogging collective, challenging me to come up with a new market-inspired recipe, I decided cabbage was the perfect vegetable to showcase.

Cabbage, Fennel, and Pancetta Pasta | Things I Made Today

In addition to my recipe, check out some of my fellow Whisk bloggers farmer’s market creations below.

Cabbage, Fennel, and Pancetta Pasta
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
  • 8 ounce pancetta, cubed
  • 1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, cored and sliced thin
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced thin
  • Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Pinch of red chili flakes
  • 1½ pounds savoy cabbage, cored and sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ pound whole wheat penne pasta, dry
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving at least ½ cup of the pasta water for sauce.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet or dutch oven, cook pancetta over medium high heat until browned, about 4-5 minutes. Add in fennel and onion and cook until they soften, about 5 more minutes. Add olive oil, toss to coat. Next, add in red chili flakes and cabbage, working in batches if needed. Cook cabbage for 10-12 minutes, until the cabbage has softened and started to brown.
  3. Reduce heat to low, add butter and toss to coat. When pasta is ready, add it to cabbage. Pour in pasta water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, stirring constantly, until a nice sauce starts to form. Add in ¾ cup Parmesan and toss to coat once more.
  4. Season with remaining Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper to taste.

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  • 08 / 29 / 16 / 8:35 am

    What a great combination of unsung heroes of summer produce; we particularly love using fennel and it’s nice to see your creative use of it in this wonderful meal creation.

    writes Platter TalkReply
    • 08 / 29 / 16 / 2:26 pm

      Thanks – I love the concept of an unsung hero recipe ;)

      writes VickyReply
  • 08 / 29 / 16 / 10:58 am

    OMG, we have so much CSA green cabbage, and I’ve been in such a rut. Making this, like, immediately.

    writes SarahReply
    • 08 / 29 / 16 / 2:27 pm

      Report back ;)

      writes VickyReply
  • 08 / 29 / 16 / 11:12 am

    We will need to try this. I have never combined cabbage with pasta but this looks so tempting. You are right, the cabbage can be a true hero :)

    writes BreakingNaanReply
  • 08 / 29 / 16 / 2:02 pm

    Lovely combination here Vicky, and it looks so yummy. Very creative. Mouth watering pictures!!! Yum!

    writes @5SensespalateReply
    • 08 / 29 / 16 / 2:27 pm

      Thanks Sujhey!

      writes VickyReply

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