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Got Cabbage?

Favorite Italian Cabbage Recipes


Cabbage is the one of the most popular winter vegetables in Italy, and rightly so: It comes into season during the winter months, is inexpensive, is nutritious, is quite tasty, and is also versatile, working well in antipasti, soups, risotti, and main courses. Who could ask for more? Here is a quick rundown of favorite Italian cabbage recipes, starting with antipasti.

Kale on Toasted Bread, Cavolo Nero con le Fette

Cavolo Nero: Black Leaf Kale
© Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com
Kale on toast is extremely good, and since it leans in that direction, some might also identify this recipe with bruschetta.

Cabbage Salad, Cappuccio in Insalata

Cavolo Cappuccio Bianco: White Cabbage
© Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com
This simple cabbage salad from Friuli Venezia Giulia will be equally tasty with red or green cabbage, though I might choose green because it will contrast with the red of the pancetta.

Ribollita & Minestra di Pane, Tuscan Ribollita & Bread Soup

Minestra di pane and ribollita are two of the best uses for sliced Tuscan bread (crusty, firm of crumb, and without salt) I have ever come across. Tuscans make this hearty winter soup (Ribollita is Minestra di Pane reheated) with cavolo nero, black leaf kale, a long-leafed variety of winter cabbage whose leaves are a very dark purplish green. When it's reheated the next day, Minestra di Pane becomes Ribollita, and is even better!

Savoy Cabbage Minestrone, Minestrone di Cavolo Verza

A Head of Savoy Cabbage
© Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com
Minestrone is more a universe than a recipe, with variations to suit every possible taste. This Savoy cabbage minestrone is Campanian, and a welcome change of pace during the colder winter months of the cabbage season. It is very much simple peasant food.

Kale Soup over Garlic Toasted Bread, Zuppa di Cavolo Nero su Fette di Pane

Tuscany is well known for bread soups, in particular the minestra di pane that's common in the center of the region during the winter months, and its cousin, ribollita, which one makes by reheating one's minestra di pane the next day. This soup is instead from Versilia, the coastal region north of the Arno, and involves considerably more garlic than one encounters inland.

Cabbage and Bean Soup, Inverzà

Italy has a great many bean soups, most of which are rather creamy in texture. Pasta e Fagioli, or pasta fazool comes to mind. This bean and cabbage soup from the Veneto is instead liquid, and gains added body from slices of toasted bread. In short, simple, frugal winter fare of the kind once enjoyed by those who couldn't afford meat. No less good for that, and now a fine option for those who are cutting back on meat consumption.

Seupa Vapellenentse

This is one of the classic soups of the Valle D'Aosta, in part because the ingredients were readily available -- stale bread, Fontina cheese, and cabbage, which grows well in the cold of mountain valleys.

Farro Soup with Kale, Zuppa di Farro col Cavolo Nero

Kale and farro are beautifully paired, and since kale is at its best when its leaves have felt the bite of frost, this is a winter recipe.

Rice and Savoy Cabbage Venetian Style, Risi E Verze Alla Veneziana

The Venetians introduced rice, which they got from the Arabs, to northern Italy, and developed a number of dishes that combine rice with other ingredients; the best known is Risi e Bisi, Rice & Peas, which was only prepared when the Doge (Venice's ruler) allowed. Risi e Verze, Rice & Savoy Cabbage, is a bit more plebian, and simple winter fare.

Leonardo Romanelli's Tortiglioni Con Cavolo E Salsiccia

Pasta is an astonishingly variable universe. Many fall/winter recipes are slow cooking, but there are times when one has to get the meal ready sooner, and Leonardo Romanelli's tortiglioni with sausages and cabbage recipe is quite tasty, and can be prepared in the time it takes the pasta water to come to a boil.

As an added bonus, Leonardo's recipe is a nice way to slip cabbage, which is one of the healthier winter vegetables, past people who might object to it in a salad or as a side dish.

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