Baked Rigatoni with Savoy Cabbage and Fontina

Growing up, my mother would make savoy cabbage with spaghetti in a garlic and oil sauce.  It was one of my favorite pasta dishes.  We would have it regularly, at least once a month.  The savoy cabbage is similar to the regular green cabbage you may be used to, but the leaves are curly and the flavor is slightly sweeter than green cabbage.  This makes it a great accompaniment to the pasta.  So, when I came across this recipe by Loukie Werle, I had to try it.

This dish is made with fontina cheese, which comes from the Val d’Aosta region in Italy. Fontina cheese has a soft texture, with a rich and creamy flavor. It is perfect for melting. Be sure to buy the imported fontina for the best flavor. 

I changed the recipe slightly with some of my own twists to remind me of the flavor of my mother’s pasta.


¼ – cup extra virgin olive oil
1 – cup onion diced
2 – cloves garlic minced
6 – sage leaves
¼ – tsp. pepperoncino (crushed red pepper flakes)
1 – lb. rigatoni
1 – large russet potato
5 – cups shredded savoy cabbage
2/3 – cup Fontina cheese grated
¾ – cup parmigiano Reggiano grated
Ground Black Pepper


Peel the potato and cut into ¾ inch pieces.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and the potatoes and cook until fork tender. Remove the potato with a slotted spoon and set aside until ready to assemble the pasta. Retain the boiling water for the rigatoni. Keep the flame on simmer until you are ready to cook the pasta.

Prepare the ingredients:

While the potatoes are cooking, dice the onion and garlic and set aside.  Cut the cabbage in half and remove the core.  Cut each half in half again, and make think slices to shred the cabbage.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or pot.  Add the diced onion and garlic and sauté on medium heat until the onion starts to become lucid.  Reduce the heat a little, then add the sage leaves and pepperoncino. Cook for one – two minutes, making sure not to burn the sage. 

Next add the shredded cabbage, and season with salt and pepper.  Stir and sauté until the cabbage begins to wilt. 

Add the potatoes to the cabbage, mix well.  Set aside until the pasta is ready. Once you add the cabbage to the skillet, add the rigatoni to the boiling water and cook as directed on the package or until al dente.

Assemble the pasta:

Rub butter over the bottom and sides of a large baking pan.  Add half of the cooked rigatoni.  Top with half of the cabbage mixture, then spread half of the grated fontina cheese and half of the parmigiano cheese. 

Add the remainder of the rigatoni and top with the remainder of the cabbage and fontina and parmigiano cheeses.

Drizzle a little olive oil over the top and bake in a 350˚ oven for 45 minutes.  Check at 30 minutes.  It should be bubbling and lightly browned on top.

Buon Appetito!


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