Recipe 18: Penne with Cabbage and Gorgonzola

I chanced upon the $35 a WeekProject either while looking for recipes or just on the WordPress frontpage.  I like the concept: Recipes that will feed a family of two for $35 a week or less.  The author breaks down the cost for individual items and approximately what each serving costs.  This is smart regardless of your personal economic situation, but especially families with children (those kids can get expensive!) or families with a limited income.  Heck, even if you have a good income, who doesn’t like to save money?

I confess I had misgivings about trying this recipe.  It had nothing to do with number or type of ingredients or even degree of difficulty; in fact, this recipe calls for simple ingredients and couldn’t be much easier to slap together.  No, it had to do with one of the main ingredients: Cabbage.  I am not a big fan of the stuff.  Maybe it has to do with not eating much of it as a kid (in fact, I’m not sure I had it as a kid at all), but I know there are plenty of things I didn’t try growing up that I love today.  But I tend to find it unpleasant – kind of a bitterness that reminds me of something gone bad.

Loverman, on the other hand, is fine with cabbage.  Maybe calling him a fan would be too strong, but growing up in a family with strong Eastern European roots (Polish and Hungarian), he ate plenty of it in traditional foods, and he has often praised his mother’s cole slaw forever putting him off any other lesser slaws.  Well, this challenge is to help me try new foods, so it was worth another go, I figured.  Besides, I know I like gorgonzola (well, blue cheeses in general, really) – and maybe the caraway would be good too?  Why not take a shot?

Penne with Cabbage and Gorgonzola (from The $35 a Week Project)


  •  8 oz. gorgonzola
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1/3 head cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 lb. penne (or other short shape) pasta (I used corn rigatoni)
  • Parsley leaves for garnish (I left this out because meh, garnish)
  • Salt and pepper


Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat until smoking (yes, that is right – above calls for vegetable oil, but here it says olive oil. I used vegetable oil). Add the cabbage, caraway seeds, and a pinch of salt and cook until cabbage is lightly browned.

Reduce heat to medium-low (if you have an unresponsive electric stove like I do, you may want to just remove it from the heat) and stir in the gorgonzola. Add a little water or chicken broth if necessary to help the melting (I didn’t find it necessary). Set aside.

When the water is boiling, add pasta and salt and cook to al dente according to package directions. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water. Add the pasta to the cabbage mixture, stirring well to evenly distribute, adding pasta water when necessary to keep things moving (I don’t think I needed any of the water). Add salt and pepper to taste and serve sprinkled with parsley.

Loverman's and my dinner

Verdict: 1/5

This is another time I feel the need to repeat the caveat that this is all based on my opinion.  I do believe I went into this with an open mind, but that cabbage was just too much for me to bear.  I picked all around it when eating my bowl.

But it wasn’t just the cabbage.  Even Loverman, who has eaten piles of it over the years, found it distasteful.  This is a guy who will generally eat just about anything put in front of him and he ate even less of the stuff than I did.  After a hesitant bite, he offered doubtfully, “I don’t think I like gorgonzola.”  I reminded him that gorgonzola was just blue cheese, which I know he likes – and besides, we had had this exact same cheese a few days ago at a get-together, and he liked it then.  He was fine with the cabbage (though he thought it still a bit to crunchy even after cooking down a good deal) and the pasta was fine.

It turns out neither of us like caraway.

Thankfully, I only made a half recipe.  I soldiered on and ate the pasta, though as I mentioned, I couldn’t stand to have more than a few nibbles of the cabbage.  Loverman was even worse: He had a few bites – then decided that it was too off-putting, threw the rest of his bowl out, and had an ever-so nutritious meal of snack mix.

“You know,” I ventured, eying him askance, “we do have some leftovers of actual meals in the fridge.”

Unrepentant, he crunched another handful of snack mix.  He glanced briefly at the bag before protesting, “But it has 25% less fat!”

That’s my man.

If you folks like cabbage, gorgonzola, and caraway, you will likely gobble this up.  We did not.  The author of the $35 a Week Project calculated it cost about $1.25 per serving to make (using regular pasta, not gluten-free), and hey, if you like all those ingredients, you will surely get your money’s worth.  We did not, alas – but at least little was wasted.

Two recipes in a row that weren’t that great.  Blast!  Here’s hoping the next one makes up for the disappointment.


2 Comments on “Recipe 18: Penne with Cabbage and Gorgonzola”

  1. 35aweek says:

    Sorry it didn’t work out for you guys…caraway isn’t for everyone! (P.S., it’s $35 a week, not day. I’d be eating out every meal if I had that kind of budget! And it’s just the two of us; we eat most leftovers for lunch, so the plan doesn’t really work for a family of four.)

    • Lex says:

      Oops. I will correct that. Funnily enough, I was staring right at the title and still put it wrong. Clearly I was too engaged in looking at the recipes to get minor details right – like oh, day/week, number it’s meant to feed. Internet wrist-slap to me.

      I am eager to try other recipes on your site, including non mac and cheese recipes (like I said, my personal preference doesn’t make a recipe bad – just not for me!). Though I confess, the marrow mac looks awfully tempting – and I’m sure it will be made some time this year!

      Thanks for popping by – and setting me straight!

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