Marcella Hazan's rice and smothered cabbage soup is not a weeknight meal.
Once you've turned diced onion a deep golden-brown on the stovetop, you'll add a heap of finely shredded cabbage, 1 tablespoon of wine vinegar, salt, and pepper, and then cover the pan and leave it to cook for longer than seems reasonable: 1 1/2 hours (and that's the minimum).
See the recipe through to completion on Sunday, by adding broth and rice, and you'll have a perfectly enjoyable soup for the rest of the week.
But stop the smothered cabbage in its nascent state, and you won't have to eat soup every night: You can use that tender, caramelized tangle as the jumping off point for many different weeknight meals.
Over the weekend, make a double or triple batch (no matter what, it won't set you back more than $10) of the smothered cabbage.
As it cooks on the stove, set yourself up for the week by making:
- A pot of chickpeas, white beans, gigante beans, or lima beans
- A big pot of brown rice or another grain of your choice (like farro or freekeh)
- Vegetable stock (if you're looking to clean out vegetable scraps in your freezer and finish that block of Parmesan anyway)
- Tart or pie dough (or buy puff pastry from the store)
- A baking sheet's worth of roasted cauliflower or carrots
And stock up on the following ingredients for your weeknight cooking:
- Arborio rice
- Tofu or tempeh
- Oil-packed tuna
- Dark leafy greens, like lacinato kale
- Hard cheese, like Gruyère
- Onions, lemons, and garlic
And now, how to put it all together:
- With your beans and leafy greens, make a version of Heidi Swanson's Pan-Fried Giant White Beans and Kale. Add the cabbage when you add the greens so that it warms through.
- Pan-fry tofu or tempeh, then add the cabbage, and douse in a mixture of your favorite stir-fry ingredients (Sriracha, soy sauce, sesame oil, black garlic).
- Grain salad, the obvious choice. Mix together your cooked grains, flaked oil-packed tuna, smothered cabbage, roasted vegetables, small cubes of the hard cheese, and any knobs and nuggets you can find in your fridge and pantry: chopped nuts, dried fruit, herbs... Top with a soft-boiled egg.
- Use leftover cooked grains in fried rice-style sauté. Crisp them in a hot wok or sauté pan, then mix in scrambled eggs and your smothered cabbage.
- Turn your Arborio rice and vegetable stock into a basic risotto, then stir in the cabbage at the end.
- You're set up to make a much, much simpler version of Weeknight Pasta with Caramelized Cabbage. While the pasta boils, warm the cabbage on the stove. Then turn it into a sauce by adding some of the pasta water and mix it together with the pasta.
- Making a savory galette is just a matter of rolling and folding when you've already got the crust and the filling made. Sprinkle your dough with grated Gruyère before (and after) you add the smothered cabbage. If you picked up puff pastry, making a savory tart is even easier.
- Your smothered cabbage can become veggie burgers—seriously. Add an egg for binding, plenty of breadcrumbs, and any lingering cooked grains or beans. Then bake or pan-fry.
- And now that you're finally in the mood for soup, add warm vegetable broth. Leave it as is, or purée for something more slurpable.
How many pounds is the largest cabbage you've ever held? Tell us about your mammoth cabbage in the comments below.