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Great American Meatout Pasta (Suitable for St. Patrick’s Day)

The Great American Meatout is not the only green thing worth celebrating this week. Friday is St. Patrick’s Day. And since we’re into a kindness kick, here’s a chance to right a wrong — corned beef and cabbage is not a true Irish dish, nor is it particularly kind. Swap a tradition based on myth for of true kindness with this peasanty, pleasing dish of potatoes, pasta and cabbage. It’s comfort in a bowl, the ingredients are Irish enough, but the recipe, to get back to Caesar, is Italian. Called pizzoccheri, it’s traditionally made with broad buckwheat noodles, but you can use any kind of sturdy whole grain pasta. I made it here with whole wheat fusilli. It’s cheap and easy to make, rewarding to stomach and soul to eat, and being meatless, is kind to other living things, as well.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion sliced thin
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 handful fresh sage leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1 small head Savoy cabbage trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium potato thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces broad buckwheat or short whole grain pasta
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 4 ounces crumbled mild semisoft vegan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • additional olive oil for drizzling if desired


  • In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, reduce heat to low, cover and let onion caramelize and cook for 20 minutes. Raise heat back to medium, add garlic, sage and shredded cabbage. Cook, stirring for about 10 minutes, until cabbage turns pale and tender and garlic is soft and fragrant. Cover skillet and reduce heat to low.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Drop in potato slices. After a minute or two, pour in pasta. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until both are just tender. Drain and rinse, reserving about 1 cup of pasta cooking water.
  • Return the pasta and potatoes to the pot. Add the cabbage mixture, nutritional yeast, crumbled vegan cheese and a generous amount of sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Pour in 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking liquid and toss gently. The starchiness of the pasta water will form just enough of a sauce to hug the pasta. For a saucier pasta, add additional pasta water 1/4 cup at a time to reach the desired consistency.
  • Pizzoccheri can be enjoyed just fine out of the pot, but traditionally it’s poured into a lightly oiled casserole and baked for about 10 minutes, or until top is golden-brown and cheese has melted to an ooey-gooeyness.