Meatless Meals (I Wish) My Mother Made

Today’s recipe is from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian*. We were looking for a recipe to use up some cabbage. Cabbage is tasty, but all of the recipes I’ve ever made with it are somewhat work-intensive. The Big Man prepared this meal, so I can’t comment to the preparation, but I can tell you that it was tasty!

As for the ingredients, we didn’t have enough leek, so the end result was a bit less flavorful than it should have been. I made a pot of vegetable stock (recipe from the same book) and froze it in cubes a while back, so we had homemade broth — yum! We used whole wheat penne pasta, because that’s what we could find without serious hunting. And I am generally not a fan of parmesan sprinkled on top of anything, but it went with this dish really well.

Cannellini Beans with Cabbage and Pasta

Serve this wonderfully rustic dish piping hot on a cold day or at room temperature when it’s warm outside. Flavorful stock is key here. The cavatelli is my first choice, but any small pasta is fine. Use oil and omit cheese to make this a vegan dish.

Other beans you can use: It’s important to use firm beans that won’t break apart when tossed with the pasta, like cranberry, appaloosa, pinto, or chickpeas.


  • salt
  • 1/2 head cabbage, preferably Savoy, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 pound cavatelli, conchiglie, or orecchiette
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or butter
  • 1 large or 2 medium leeks, including some green parts, washed and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 springs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 3 cups cooked or canned cannellini beans, drained but still moist
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh grated parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese for garnish


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the cabbage and cook for about 3 minutes, until just tender; use a slotted spoon or a small strainer to fish it out; drain and set aside. When the water returns to a boil, add the pasta and cook until tender but firm, 7 minutes or so, then drain it.

Meanwhile, put the oil or butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot or the butter is melted, add the leeks and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme, and the wine if you’re using it, and cook for another minute, until almost dry. Add the stock, beans, and reserved cabbage. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until the flavors blend and everything is well-heated, about 5 minutes more.

Combine the bean mixture and the pasta in the large pot and stir gently. Taste and adjust the seasoning, sprinkle with Parmesan, and serve.

[Modified recipes available in the book include: Cannellini Beans with Spinach and Cavatelli; Cranberry Beans with Artichokes and Cavatelli; Chickpeas with Cabbage and Pearl Couscous.]

*The link is not an affiliate link, nor am I an any way connected to Mark Bittman. I just love this book.

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