Our quiet friend the cabbage is a fairly humble vegetable. Often relegated to coleslaw and sauerkraut, cabbage gets celebrated a bit more openly in other cultures. Eastern Europe has long enjoyed this crunchy, fragrant vegetable. Of the many cabbage dishes originating from that region, golabki (stuffed cabbage) is probably one of the most popular. Another is haluski. Haluski is what happens when you combine cabbage, bacon, onions, garlic and noodles into one incredible satisfying and flavorful dish.
One thing I love about dishes like haluski is that there are so many variations depending on where you travel and who is doing the cooking. While the cabbage and noodles remain constant, all the other ingredients may vary. I always believed that many of these variations came about based on what was in the pantry at the time. We've all done it - realized we were missing an ingredient or two, so we either left it out or more likely substituted something else. Sometimes the results end up being a more interesting dish. This is part of the creative fun one has when cooking, creating opportunities to improvise and reinterpret.
While cabbages are large, plentiful and inexpensive in the markets, go ahead and pick one up and discover new ways to enjoy it (cabbage is very nutritious, too). Here's our traditional haluski recipe (NOT low fat, but very, very delicious). If all the bacon scares you, think of using a little less or switching to something a little more lean, like pancetta. You could also cut back the butter a little and make up the difference with some olive oil. Haluski can serve as a side dish or main course. I love it so much that having a side wouldn't satisfy me, so I eat a plateful!! Either way, it will give that head of cabbage in your fridge another way to serve you!
1 head of fresh cabbage, chopped
2 medium sweet onions, diced
2 large cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
1/2 pound of bacon - diced
1 stick of unsalted butter
12 oz package of egg noodles
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet (I use an electric skillet for this job) saute diced bacon until crisp and fat has rendered. Remove cooked bacon with slotted spoon and transfer to paper towel. Leave bacon fat in skillet and add butter. Mix melted butter and bacon fat and add onions, cabbage and garlic. Mix well with spoon so vegetables are all coated with the butter/bacon fat. Cover, stirring occasionally. You don't want the vegetables to brown, but you want them to get soft. Take your lead from the cabbage. When it becomes tender (not mushy) then it's done. While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the egg noodles per package instructions. Take care not to overcook the noodles - they should be tender but not mushy (like your cabbage). I usually boil them 2-3 less than the package directs. When noodles are done, drain and put back into pot. Add the cabbage/onion/garlic mixture, the cooked pieces of bacon and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and serve immediately. Enjoy!