Two weeks into the challenging new year, this column should probably be about celery and kale. But you can enjoy widely-available whole wheat, chickpea, brown rice and other unusual pastas in your cooking-at-home menus for a little less guilt.

Adding vegetables and large salads with fruit for dessert should help get us through the weeks ahead. The nutritious cabbage recipe is adapted from the New York Times, easily doubled for a larger group. The deliciously decadent chicken pasta dish was one of the best demonstrated by a visiting young chef at my Kowalski’s gig many years ago.

Go on winter culinary adventure and give them a try!

Pasta with Caramelized Cabbage, Anchovies and Bread Crumbs

1 tbsp. unsalted butter

3 cloves garlic, minced, divided

2 anchovy fillets, or 2 tsp. anchovy paste

¼ cup panko breadcrumbs

1 tbsp. minced fresh sage or 1 tsp. dried

Ground pepper and kosher salt to taste

7-8 ounces penne, orecchiette, cavatelli, farfalle, spaghetti, etc.

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

¼ tsp. crushed red chili flakes

4 cups shredded green or savoy cabbage

1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan

1. Melt butter in small skillet over medium heat; add anchovy and mash and stir until dissolved into the butter. Add one minced garlic clove and cook briefly until fragrant. Add bread crumbs and sage, cook and stir 2 minutes until brown; season with salt and pepper.

2. Cook pasta in salted water until barely al dente; drain, reserving a bit of cooking liquid.

3. While pasta cooks, heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining two garlic cloves, stir and cook until golden. Add chili flakes, stir in the cabbage and cook, stirring occasionally until begins to caramelized, about 10 minutes. Toss in the pasta and breadcrumb mixture and heat through. Quickly add cheese, remove from heat and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Serves 2 to 3.

Penne with Chicken, Leeks, Corn, Truffle Oil and Parm

8 ounces penne pasta, cooked al dente in salted water and drained

Olive oil

1 pound chicken thighs, roasted and picked (or shredded rotisserie chicken)

1 small leek, white and pale green part, quartered lengthwise and chopped

2 cobs sweet corn, kernels cut from cobs

1-1/2 tbsp. white or black truffle oil, divided

¼ cup heavy cream

Salt and ground pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese, grated

Fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

1. Heat large sauté pan over medium-high heat; add enough olive oil to coat the pan. Add cooked chicken, leek and corn kernels; stir and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, heavy cream and 1 tbsp. truffle oil; simmer a few minutes until slightly thickened. Add the cooked pasta and a little Parmesan to taste; toss to coat.

2. Pour into a large shallow bowl, garnish with more Parmesan, fresh parsley and remaining truffle oil to serve.

Ann Noble is a local food consultant and owner of Annie’s Noble Cuisine, LLC. She can be reached with questions or comments at

(Copyright © 2021 APG Media)

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