Hey, do you remember last summer when I told you I joined a CSA? I haven’t talked about it much this season, but it’s the reason behind making these Pancetta Roasted Cabbage Steaks.
Last summer was my maiden voyage with a CSA and we loved it but, geez, it was a little overwhelming. I thought we could slay a large share without issue, but it was far more than I ever expected!
This year, I’m splitting a large share with a friend and it’s sooo much better! We get amazing produce every week but in amounts that we can get through without stress.
I love CSA’s because it “forces” me to use a wider variety of vegetables on a much more consistent basis.
Take cabbage for instance. Normally, I don’t buy cabbage unless I’m making a specific recipe, like some type of slaw or cabbage rolls. I make this Asian Peanut Chicken Slaw A LOT. (Though I do cheat and buy the cabbage already shredded.)
Cabbage rolls? Love them! But I might have made them once since I moved out of my parents house a millenia ago.
What I’m trying to say is that I rarely buy a head of cabbage. I like cabbage, but it never occurs to me to buy it on a regular basis like some other vegetables.
But last year…I was getting heads of cabbage frequently in my CSA share and trying to figure out what to do with it over and over again.
Roasting was my go to solution for the bounty of veggies that were coming my way each week. I know it’s not fancy, but it was the fastest way to get a lot of produce deliciously cooked and ready for consumption.
Seriously, I would roast something like 5 sheet pans of vegetables. And guess what? They go…fast!
Because, what’s not to like about a roasted vegetable? We eat them as a side, put a huge pile on top of pasta, stir them into sauces. Eat them as our main dish. We never get tired of them.
So when it came to all that cabbage? I made slaws and sautes with noodles, or added it to soups. But guess what our favorite way to eat it was?
Yep. Roasted. But in “steak” form. In other words, instead of cutting it up into chunks, I cut it into thick steaks. Those thick steak like slices are a dream for those who hate to prep vegetables. A few cuts with your knife and you are ready to rock!
I’d throw the steaks on a cooking sheet and roast them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Done and done.
Then, I started adding extra stuff to make them a little more interesting. And that’s how I ended up with these tasty Pancetta Roasted Cabbage Steaks. (That and because I got cabbage in my share this week :)
I started as always with olive oil, salt and pepper. But then I sprinkled some seasoned panko bread crumbs on top. You know, for texture. I love roasted veggies with a little extra crunch.
Next up, freshly grated Locatelli romano cheese. (<<<my fave) My bread crumbs were seasoned with Italian flavors so this was a perfect addition.
Then, the pancetta! I buy mine already diced up and ready to go. I’m normally one to tell you to go buy some quality pancetta and dice it up yourself, but I’m quite willing to just hit the easy button here.
One of the great things about tiny diced pancetta is that it cooks fairly quickly. And, I wanted it to be completely cooked. There’s nothing worse than eating something wrapped in bacon and the bacon seems under cooked. Blech!
I knew because the pancetta was chopped up into such small pieces, it would have plenty of time to crisp up in the oven.
Finally, I drizzled them with a bit more olive oil and popped it into the oven.
I like to roast it for 20 minutes so that the pancetta has time to cook with direct heat. Then, I cover the whole thing with foil, lightly sealing the sides so that the cabbage can continue to cook until desired tenderness without completely charring your cabbage. (Though I love a bit of char on the edges.)
That’s it! Take it out of the oven, drizzle with some good quality balsamic vinegar and serve. Or, feel free to add more toppings right before you serve it. I think freshly diced tomato would be great or maybe chopped toasted nuts or a sprinkle of fresh parsley.
The coolest thing about these Pancetta Roasted Cabbage Steaks is the texture. You know how different shaped pastas taste different? Like angel hair tastes different than rigatoni? There’s something about how thick the pasta is and how it is shaped that changes the way it “eats.” Do you know what I mean?
Well that’s the same thing with these steaks. There’s something about how thick they are. They’re kind of meaty in a very vegetable kind of way. And with the extra boost of flavor and texture from the toppings? It’s kind of like a wedge salad’s roasted cousin.
You might not belong to a CSA, so you might not have a head of cabbage staring you down, challenging you to do something with it. But this is an easy and delicious side dish that’s fancy enough for company.
Seriously, this was so good! If we don’t get cabbage in our share this week, I may have to go buy some so that I can make this again.
So, I’m thinking maybe you should just add a nice head o’ cabbage to your grocery list. No, I’m not CSA “forcing” ;) you to use up a ton of vegetables. Just go buy some veggies and consider this post…
“motivational influence.” :)
Pancetta Roasted Cabbage Steaks
- 1 small head of cabbage or 1/2 large head
- olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs
- freshly grated romano cheese
- 2 ounces diced pancetta
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or coat with a light layer of olive oil. (I like to line my sheet with foil for easy clean up.)
Prepare cabbage. Peel off any wilted cabbage leaves. Trim just the end of the stem to remove any brown or dry parts, leaving the full stem intact. You need the stem to keep the slices together. Slice cabbage into thick 3/4-1" slices.
Place slices on prepared baking sheet. Brush with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle each slice evenly with bread crumbs. I used about 1/2 Tablespoon per slice. Then top with a light coating of freshly grated romano cheese.
Scatter diced pancetta over each slice, then drizzle each slice with olive oil.
Place baking sheet on a middle rack in oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, cover tightly with foil and bake for another 20 minutes or until desired tenderness. Drizzle with a good quality aged balsamic vinegar before serving.
*I love using panko breadcrumbs for this because of their extra crispy texture. If you can't find seasoned panko, use plain. Then, mix with a sprinkle of onion powder, garlic powder and dried italian seasonings.
*To add a little freshness before serving, top with some fresh diced tomatoes right before drizzling with the balsamic vinegar.
*Use a good quality aged balsamic vinegar that is rich in color, thicker than just plain vinegar and has a nice balance of acidity and sweetness. Lower qualities will likely be too strong for the dish. Our vinegar was delicious and so we were pretty generous with our drizzles :)
*If you've got big veggie eaters, you could consider each steak one serving. Or, you could consider a 1/2 steak a serving. We each ate a full steak without issue. It will depend on the size of your cabbage as well. For this post, I used a 1/2 head of a large cabbage.
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