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Red Cabbage and Pasta Stir-Fry: Illustrated Recipe

Joi loves cooking and growing beautiful foods, and has a passion for designing memorable meals. Garden-born recipes are her favorite.

This pasta stir-fry is beautiful, suitable for lunch or dinner, and is easy to make. Children and adults both love it.

This pasta stir-fry is beautiful, suitable for lunch or dinner, and is easy to make. Children and adults both love it.

Purple Cabbage With Butterfly Pasta

This recipe is worthy of its place in our home as a staple meal; it is simple, quick, and fit for company, too. The inspiration for it came from a thin cookbook called Hot!, which, unfortunately, I can't find on the market now. It was originally a vegetarian dish, and it was a bit tamer, too.

My children decided that the bowtie pasta resembles butterflies, and so we call it Purple Cabbage with Butterfly Pasta.

When my children were younger, I made big batches that were enough for two large meals or three lighter ones—but today, with two teens, that is impossible. The same amount makes enough for one dinner and a snack or a single lunch.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

20 min

30 min

Serves 4-5 hungry adults

Ingredients

Main Ingredients:

  • 3 or 4 strips bacon, good quality
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup butter, real is best
  • jalapeño or chile, minced (optional, to taste)
  • 1 small head red cabbage
  • 1 (12-ounce) package bowtie pasta

Spice Mixture:

  • 1 to 2 teaspoons orange zest (or 1 tablespoon thin, sweet orange peel, minced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons caraway seed, whole or roughly ground
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons brown sugar (or 2 tablespoons molasses)

Supplies

  • 12" heavy skillet or chicken fryer, optional (works for small or medium batches)
  • Dutch oven or 2-gallon stock pot with a heavy bottom, or 14" heavy skillet
  • Platter or chopping board
  • Good knife for chopping bacon
  • Heavy spatula
  • Small dish or glass measuring cup, to mix spices
  • Measuring spoons
I love this 14" cast iron skillet, which is fabulous for family-size batches of stir-fry.

I love this 14" cast iron skillet, which is fabulous for family-size batches of stir-fry.

Instructions

  1. Mix the spices and orange zest in a small bowl. Leave out the brown sugar or molasses for now.
  2. Fry the bacon in a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven. When it is about half done, and has sizzled but is not crisp, remove it to a platter or chopping board. Reserve bacon fat in skillet.
  3. While the bacon is cooking, chop the cabbage into small pieces or ribbons. Once the bacon is out of the skillet, add the butter and spices. Turn the heat to very low. Stir until the butter melts and the spices are blended. Add cabbage and fry slowly, stirring occasionally. Only add water if necessary, a dribble at a time, as cabbage will usually steam itself if cooked with a lid on. Cook only until wilted, unless you prefer limp vegetables.
  4. Boil water for pasta. Cook until not quite done, and drain it well. Meanwhile, mince the bacon. Add the pasta to the skillet with cabbage and begin to heat through. Add finely chopped bacon, and sprinkle on sugar or drizzle on molasses. (If you add the sweetener too early, it will stick.)
  5. Serve immediately.

How Much Did You Love It?

Step 1: Bacon

The bacon must be chopped fine. Maple-flavored bacon is a favorite of ours in this dish.

The bacon must be chopped fine. Maple-flavored bacon is a favorite of ours in this dish.

Step 2: Spices

The spices, orange, and peppers simmer briefly by themselves in butter. The heat must be low, or they will burn. A minute or two of cooking is enough; you only want to blend flavors.

The spices, orange, and peppers simmer briefly by themselves in butter. The heat must be low, or they will burn. A minute or two of cooking is enough; you only want to blend flavors.

Step 3: Cabbage

You may shred or chop the cabbage, as you wish. Chopping is faster, and offers more "bite," but shredding picks up more flavor and cooks quickly.

You may shred or chop the cabbage, as you wish. Chopping is faster, and offers more "bite," but shredding picks up more flavor and cooks quickly.

Step 4: Pasta

Stir the nearly done pasta into the cabbage, and let it finish cooking. Stir to coat with butter and spices.

Stir the nearly done pasta into the cabbage, and let it finish cooking. Stir to coat with butter and spices.

Step 5: All Together Now

As the stir-fry nears completion, it will look a bit glossy and disorderly. Scrape down the sides if you are using a pot, or bits of cabbage will dry out.

As the stir-fry nears completion, it will look a bit glossy and disorderly. Scrape down the sides if you are using a pot, or bits of cabbage will dry out.

Given room to shine, this dish is lovely.

Given room to shine, this dish is lovely.

Shredding a Cabbage With a Knife

Green Cabbage Substitute

You can use green cabbage if you wish . . . but the results are not as pleasing to the eye. The cooked cabbage turns nearly the same color as the pasta, and it looks rather bland. The taste, however, is anything but bland.

If you choose to use bacon—or, in a pinch, ham—the green cabbage picks up the flavors of the pork more, while the red cabbage picks up the orange peel and spices.

Green Cabbage Looks Bland but Tastes Good

Cooked green cabbage doesn't have much visual appeal, but tastes wonderful, though milder than red.

Cooked green cabbage doesn't have much visual appeal, but tastes wonderful, though milder than red.

Cooking Over Fire

Most of the pictures in this article show this dish being cooked on a wood-burning cookstove. Cooking over real fire definitely makes food better, so if you have this option, consider trying it. If you can do more than warm coffee on a wood-burning stove, you can probably cook on it . . . but some newer types are so well insulated on top that they won't produce enough heat for most cooking.

Be aware that the cooking time may increase, as wood heat is often more gentle and diffused. So count on 30 to 45 minutes on a cookstove, as opposed to 25 to 30 on a good conventional gas or electric stove.

© 2019 Joilene Rasmussen

Comments

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from Ovid on June 11, 2019:

Linda, it definitely is incredible! I hope you are able to enjoy it soon! Thanks so much for stopping by.

Linda Rogers from Minnesota on June 11, 2019:

This dish looks incredible. I love the pairing of spices, pasta & cabbage. Cant wait to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing this.