Pasta with Cabbage and Pancetta
Adapted from Franny’s: Simple. Seasonal. Italian.
As I mentioned above, I wanted my pasta to have a little more heft, so I added pancetta, and a bit of fresh sage, for good measure; pancetta and sage are such good friends, why separate them? I wanted to transition the dish to have spring-like notes, and it was fortuitous that I had some ramp greens on hand. Plus, what a great way to use your ramp greens! Lastly, I didn’t have any pecorino Toscano on hand (it’s becoming easier and easier to find, by the way) and wanted a more assertive cheese to stand up to pancetta – so I used pecorino Romano.
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
6 ounce pancetta, cubed
1 (2 to 2 ½ pound) cabbage, cored and cut into thin strips
Greens from a bunch of ramps, chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons chiffonade of fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1 pound pasta, such as penne or farfalle
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano (or for a meltier version, Toscano)
Freshly ground black pepper
1. In a very large skillet, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, until browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the cabbage and cook, stirring, until golden, 7 to 8 minutes. Add ramp greens, a generous pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons of the butter, sage, and chili flakes. Cook until the ramp greens are wilted and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add a splash of water to the pan. Remove from heat.
2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add enough salt so the water tastes like seawater. Cook the pasta until 2 minutes shy of al dente; drain, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.
3. Toast pasta in the skillet with the cabbage and return to medium heat. Add the remaining butter and cook, over medium heat, until the pasta is al dente, 1 to 2 minutes, adding a little more water to the pan if the sauce seems dry. Toss pasta and cabbage with cheese, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide pasta among serving plates or bowls and top each with the remaining grated cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.