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!

Beef Braciole with Peppers and Onions

Beef, braciole

Beef braciole is a common Italian-American meal, stuffed with cheese, herbs, and bread crumbs, made into rolls and cooked in tomato sauce. Growing up my mother prepared it in the same manner.  The sauce was used to dress the pasta and the braciole were served on the side along with the meatballs. Braciole can be made of any meat you prefer, beef, pork, lamb, and even chicken. My favorite is pork, but today I decided to use beef with a simple breadcrumb stuffing like Mom used to do.

Braciole is not only a great accompaniment to spaghetti, it also makes a great main dish. Today, instead of cooking the braciole in tomato sauce, I am making it with peppers and onions.  This recipe is easy and fast.

1 – lb. flank steak (sliced into four thin slices)
2 – cloves garlic
2 – green bell peppers
1 – medium onion
1/2 – cup dry red wine
1/2 – cup chicken stock
Ground black pepper

Ingredients for stuffing:
1 – cup panko
1/2 – cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 tsp. – Herb de Provence
1 tsp. – oregano
1/2 tsp. – black pepper
1/4 tsp. – salt
1/2 cup pecorino romano
1 tsp. – garlic
1/4 – cup olive oil
1/4 – cup water
1/4 – cup fresh parsley

Directions for stuffing:
Mix all the ingredients together. The stuffing should be moist enough to hold together when you squeeze it in your hand. Add a little more water if it needs it.

Assemble the braciole:
Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the steak. Spread stuffing down the center of the beef slices, leaving a one-half inch border all around.

Start at the widest end of the steak and roll tightly. Insert two toothpicks into the roll to hold it together.

In a large skillet, add a little olive oil and the garlic. Once the oil is hot add the braciole and brown it on all sides.

In the meantime, cut the peppers into medium sized slices, and slice the onion in half and then make thin half moon slices.

Once all sides of the braciole are browned, remove them to a bowl and set aside. Add the peppers and onion to the skillet, sprinkle with salt and black pepper, and sauté about 5 minutes until they start to soften.

Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen all the brown bits. Cook about one minute to cook off the alcohol then add the chicken stock and stir, then return the braciole to the pan.

Cover and cook on a low flame for 15-20 minutes until the peppers are tender. As the peppers cook down, the wine and chicken stock will make a delicious sauce.  Stir occasionally and turn the braciole to cover it in the juices.

Remove the toothpicks and serve the braciole over the peppers and onions, and pour some of the sauce on top.

Buon appetito!

Beef Braciole, Peppers, Onions, Stuffing