a naked chef in my kitchen: jamie oliver’s farfalle with savoy cabbage, pancetta, thyme, and mozzarella

By now you are very familiar with the whole “aunt is moving and is trying to downsize” spiel.  You are also, perhaps, quite jealous of our recent acquisitions, which include (but are in no way limited to) a pizza stone and an ice cream maker.  Well, not only are we the happy recipients of many assorted cooking gadgets, we are also the owners of a great many new (to us) cookbooks, and Food & Wine and Bon Appetite magazines. Judge me if you want, but I am thrilled by our recent culinary windfall, and have spent many hours poring over these bibles of the cooking world.

Out of our new collection, my favorite cookbook is Best of the Best, Volume 5, Food & Wine’s annual cookbook-awards collection.  It’s filled with salads, main dishes, and desserts from some of the best professional chefs out there — including the Naked Chef himself, Jamie Oliver — and it’s replete with fantastic photos of each dish (the ultimate sign of a great cookbook, in my estimation).

So as I flipped through the pages one day not too long ago, I came across Jamie Oliver’s farfalle with savoy cabbage, pancetta, thyme, and mozzarella, with its picture of a big bowl of pasta covered in ribbons of deep green savoy cabbage, pockets of melted mozzarella, and shavings of Parmesan.  I couldn’t get to Harris Teeter fast enough to gather the ingredients and start cooking.

But, alas, Harris Teeter doesn’t sell savoy cabbage.  Only plain Jane cabbage (technical term), which I used, but wasn’t happy about.  I’ve never eaten the savoy variety, but from the color alone I imagine it’s more bitter than your average cabbage, which would’ve been a nice flavor in this dish.  I also used regular mozzarella, not the prescribed buffalo mozzarella, because the latter seemed a little excessive and the former was on sale.

This dish isn’t going to win any beauty contests, but it tastes great.  There’s lots of salty goodness from the Parmesan, mozzarella, and pancetta, smokiness from the toasted pine nuts, and a slight bitterness from the cabbage.  Nate has already declared that we will make this again — next time, I’m swapping some (or all) of the cabbage with spinach.  Popeye would be so proud.

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