Whole-Wheat Pasta With Cabbage, Mushrooms, Guanciale and Caraway 4.000

James M. Thresher/for The Washington Post; Tableware by Crate and Barrel

Dinner in Minutes Oct 21, 2009

This is an interesting example of what happens when we try to reconstruct tasty restaurant dishes at home. Don't get me wrong: Sfoglia's recipe for handmade whole-wheat pasta and the recipe for this dish, both of which appear in a new cookbook by chef-owners Ron Suhanosky and Colleen Marnell-Suhanosky, are winners as written.

The whole-wheat pasta dough takes time to prepare; on a weeknight, we'd most likely be using the store-bought, dried whole-wheat variety. The guanciale, or cured pork jowl, adds a ton of saturated flavor (and fat), but it's not widely available. Pancetta is okay as a substitute; it doesn't provide the same oomph. We might use the more ubiquitous Napa cabbage instead of the slightly more assertive, elusive Savoy cabbage, too.

This adapted dish turns out quite nicely; it's still rich and caloric, even though we cut back on the amount of guanciale once we got a look at the nutritional analysis. (The flavor profile does not suffer.) If you follow the cookbook directions to the letter or happen to enjoy the dish at Sfoglia in New York or Nantucket, Mass., you'll be rewarded further.

We found guanciale at Canales Delicatessen in Eastern Market (202-547-4471).

Wine columnist Dave McIntyre recommends pairing the dish with a glass of Italian pinot noir or Piemontese nebbiolo or barbera.

Servings: 4
  • 12 ounces dried whole-wheat linguine or spaghetti, such as De Cecco brand
  • 4 to 5 ounces guanciale (see headnote; may substitute 6 ounces pancetta)
  • 1 pound assorted mushrooms, such as shiitake, oyster and cremini
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 small (3/4 pound) savoy or napa cabbage
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, cut the guanciale into 1/4-inch dice. Clean the mushrooms, then cut or break them into pieces.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the guanciale and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring, until the fat has been rendered and there are crisped bits, then add the mushrooms and caraway seeds. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until the mushrooms release their moisture and become tender and brown.

While the mushrooms are cooking, core, then cut the cabbage into thin slices. After the mushrooms are tender and brown, add the cabbage, water and black pepper; you might need to add the cabbage in two batches, depending on the depth of your skillet. Use tongs to incorporate, turning the mixture often as the cabbage wilts. The liquid in the skillet should be barely bubbling.

When the pasta is done, use tongs to transfer it to the skillet, shaking off as much water as possible. Mix well; remove from the heat.

Divide among individual wide, shallow bowls; sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and serve hot.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from the Suhanoskys' "Pasta Sfoglia," with Susan Simon (Wiley and Sons, 2009).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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