Kale and Cabbage Pasta

Kale and Cabbage Pasta Recipe

Place me in a room with a brassica of your choice and I would, until surprisingly recently, have crawled up the walls and screamed for mercy and probably my mother. However, one by one my aversion to greens has fallen – broccoli was the first to go, followed by kale and now even cabbage and the infamous Brussels sprouts have spent an evening in my digestive clink. Last week, while at my local food market in Bristol, a rather good looking cabbage caught my eye and I had not the will nor the inclination to resist its pull and I’m so glad I didn’t!

Cabbage and kale are both extraordinarily frugal ingredients – not only is the immediate financial outlay required to purchase them relatively inconsequential, they go surprisingly far. Indeed, when one acquires a vegetable that isn’t half gone after providing food for four, it is clear that one may be on to something of a winner.

Kale and Cabbage Pasta Recipe

Both kale and cabbage are generally best cooked for a very short amount of time. When overcooked, cabbage releases its rather offensive supply of sulphur which never proves to be particularly pleasant. Just try smelling the air after singeing a little of your arm hair. Interestingly, this is probably the reason you, I and so many of our peers, elders and youngers have been put off cabbage in our youth – it’s a well-known fact that school cooks very often, and somewhat ironically, have no idea how to cook. Still, if you follow my advice the only danger you’ll be in is of eating a truly delicious pasta dish.

For a similar using beautiful Tuscan cavolo nero, see my recipe for Cavolo Nero with Pasta and Almonds…

Kale and Cabbage Pasta {recipe}

Serves 3-4


• 300g pasta, fusilli or similar

• 2 large handfuls of very roughly chopped kale

• ¼ of a head of white cabbage, shredded

• 2 cloves of garlic, mashed

• 1-2 red chillies, finely sliced

• 3-4 tbsp olive oil

• Salt and pepper


1. Boil the pasta in some well salted water. Once cooked through set it to one side and begin to fry the garlic in around 1 tbsp of the olive oil. This is best done in a large, heavy-based frying pan.

Kale and Cabbage Pasta Recipe

2. Making sure not to let the garlic burn add the cabbage and kale, toss for a few seconds and then add the pasta and the remaining olive oil. Continue to toss until well coated. Serve with a scattering of chilli and a little parmesan (if desired).

Kale and Cabbage Pasta Recipe

Cost: As mentioned above, cabbage and kale are both inexpensive; particularly at this time of the year since they are very much in season. This means that, since they are the main ingredients, this meal is going to cost next to nothing. Indeed, the entire recipe can be made for as little as £1.50 – a very tempting price!

75 comments on “Kale and Cabbage Pasta

  1. cibusamare
    January 11, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Yum. I absolutely love kale. And cabbage…almost every kind of sliced green!

  2. gorunjess
    January 11, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Love cabbage with pasta! When I have it, I love to toss in some ground Italian sausage, but we usually go meatless.

  3. theglobalgarnishgeek
    January 11, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    I love pasta with cruciferous wonders. This looks beautiful with the chili.

  4. countrywoodsmoke
    January 11, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    I love the greens here, I’m lucky to have cavalo nero kale in my veg patch that would be lovely in this recipe.

    • frugalfeeding
      January 11, 2013 at 9:35 pm

      They are good in our neck of the wood, aren’t they? Oooooh that would be amazing!

  5. lmicheles
    January 11, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    I like the addition of red chilies. Will try this soon.

  6. intriguingdesires
    January 11, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    Looks really yummy, roughly how many calories per serving?

  7. Eva Taylor
    January 11, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Not just nutitritious and delicious, but beautiful too!

  8. Eva Taylor
    January 11, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Not just nutitritious and delicious, but beautiful too!

  9. Food and Forage Hebrides
    January 11, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    I tempted to try pasta with sprouts to deal with my glut, but that might be pushing it too far… Thanks for a great brassica recipe. Tracey

  10. narf77
    January 11, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    As much as I love cabbage, I prefer it pan fried to steamed every time. Same goes with spinach and the addition of garlic and chilli make it heavenly. I use cabbage predominately for spring rolls. We eat them often because they are delicious. So many Asian recipes embrace cabbage as a kind of bulk filler background ingredient and most people wouldn’t even know it was there. I love cabbage for its versitility and can actually remember when broccoli was introduced as a “brand new vegetable” into my neck of the woods in Australia (my mum worked in a market garden and brought some home for us to try) it was like we were trying caviar for the very first time…she must have cooked it well because I loved it ;). The brassica’s are my staple food group and I must have Brussels sprouts on a regular basis, even if I have to resort to frozen. I also like broad beans so I guess that makes me one of “those” people, but hey, someone has to love them! 🙂

    • frugalfeeding
      January 11, 2013 at 9:34 pm

      Most veggies are better pan fried – their flavour doesn’t seep into the water… I really need to do a spring roll recipe – sit tight. I should endeavour to eat more brassicas… and I shall. hmm, I’m not there with broad beans.

      • narf77
        January 12, 2013 at 7:01 am

        Lol…I guess that means all the more broad beans for me then! 😉

  11. cecilia
    January 11, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    No-0ne will share my kale here. i am all alone with my plate of greens! cabbage on the other hand is another matter.. everyone loves the humble cabbage… c

    • frugalfeeding
      January 11, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      OH no! I would have thought the kale more popular…

      • cecilia
        January 11, 2013 at 9:54 pm

        more good for you!! c

    • Linne
      January 30, 2013 at 10:25 pm

      Try what I did some time ago . . . chop fine a small amount of kale and a large amount of cabbage. Steam or fry together, whatever you usually do. (steaming keeps more flavour and nutrition in than boiling, unless you are making soup). Once the others get used to that, slowly increase the amount of the kale. Mum did that for us with rutabaga, because it’s another strongly flavoured veg; she added mashed potato to smooth out the taste. Years later, we all love it! I still add a little mashed potato, just because I like the texture or silkiness it adds. I don’t peel my potatoes, though (ever!!). But use whatever you are most used to.
      ~ Linne

  12. Conor Bofin
    January 11, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    Love cabbage. But, kale and I do not get on. My last venture ended up with a 15 minute boiling leading to hard, metallic tasting kale. I may try again inf the kale looks as good as yours does.

    • frugalfeeding
      January 11, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      Oh you must, Conor! IT literally just needs to feel the flame and then get served!

  13. cantonollores
    January 11, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    Yay, I have kale in my fridge, I’m looking forward to trying this 🙂

  14. Corina
    January 11, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    Very healthy as well as frugal. I love the use of the chilli in it.

  15. silverbells2012
    January 11, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    i haven’t quite got the taste for kale yet but I love cabbage. these dishes look so delicious..

  16. jeksca
    January 12, 2013 at 12:09 am

    I will be adding this to the menu soon!

  17. cathyn61
    January 12, 2013 at 2:08 am


  18. musingmar
    January 12, 2013 at 3:21 am

    What a bright and healthy looking dish, not to mention delicious. So glad you succumbed to the siren call of the alluring cabbage!

  19. egg104
    January 12, 2013 at 8:11 am

    looks amazing! and great photography too : )

  20. paulheels
    January 12, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Nice! But I love the smell of cabbage being cooked. A very earthy aroma roaming throughout the house. The best smell is collards though. Yummy.

    • frugalfeeding
      January 14, 2013 at 5:37 pm

      Indeed. I’ll have to get myself some collards, evidently.

  21. kimsimard
    January 12, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    I always walk by both of these greens in the store. This recipe is enticing enough that I just might give it a whirl. Thanks

  22. cookinginsens
    January 12, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Very appetizing dish Frugal. Nice skillet too 🙂

  23. flyfishbrat
    January 12, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Looks wonderful. I can’t wait to try this recipe, maybe even tonight. I have everything and never thought of using my kale this way. Thanks.

  24. spree
    January 12, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    I’ve noticed an increasingly green shade to your posts Nick! 🙂 Another brassica hater bites the dust! Love when that happens!

    • frugalfeeding
      January 14, 2013 at 5:35 pm

      Haha – indeed… there’s more to come as well.

  25. Linne
    January 12, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    Another about-to-become-a-favourite-recipe!! Yum!
    In return, you may be interested in this recipe from another of my favourite bloggers:
    I’m making the veggie mix from that tonight, but having it with pasta, not tortillas, as I don’t usually have them on hand. Soon will try yours. Have to use up some of the veggies in the frig first, though. Don’t know about you, but I often make stir-frys; I like to buy small brussels sprouts and quarter them, then add them at nearly the end of cooking, just when I add a bit of water or broth and cover for the final steam (I’m not big on too much actual frying, really), then I add chunks of zucchini at the very end. ~ Linne

    • frugalfeeding
      January 14, 2013 at 5:34 pm

      Good stuff – I hope you enjoy it! I’m afraid I’m a massive proponent of frying! :D. Still, that sounds deeeeeelish.

  26. baconbiscuit212
    January 12, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    Look at you, Nick! Seems like 2012 and 2013 are years of new omnivorous horizons! Brussels sprouts? Kale? Cabbage? Can’t forget parsnips 🙂

    All great and wonderfully frugal vegetables to eat. This looks great! A good dish to eat after all the holiday overindulgences 🙂

    • frugalfeeding
      January 14, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      Indeed! I’m sure parsnips will feature somewhere, Daisy!

  27. petit4chocolatier
    January 13, 2013 at 3:07 am

    Great recipe. I was just in one of our main supermarkets and they had buy one bag of kale get the 2nd one free. I had my hands on it, and then thought I don’t really have a recipe right now to use all this kale. Well, I must say I have buyers regret!!

    • frugalfeeding
      January 14, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      Buy one get on free can lead to waste though, so I’m glad you didn’t.

  28. wilphil
    January 13, 2013 at 10:15 am

    Tried it out today with some more vegies and mixed herbs … loved it!!!

  29. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide
    January 13, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    This would fit quite nicely into the little kale kick we’ve been on. You’ve already inspired us once with your clever use of greens.

  30. sookisu
    January 13, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    This looks great – and so seasonal. I’m a huge kale fan – especially kale crisps with garlic and chilli!

    • frugalfeeding
      January 14, 2013 at 5:32 pm

      Thanks so much! I aim to be seasonal where possible.

  31. mrswebbinthekitchen
    January 13, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Glad you’ve succembed to loving cabbage and kale! They add so much flavor! This dish looks simple and delicious. I’m not sure what kind of chiles you are using, though, that are red and that tiny?

    • frugalfeeding
      January 14, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      Oh I have! More to come too! Thanks! Umm, birdseye?

  32. tee14by14
    January 14, 2013 at 2:29 am

    I’m a huge kale fan, so this looks so good.

  33. NickkiT
    January 14, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Looks very good – and healthy! I do love kale so I’m very tempted by this one 🙂

  34. Mizz Winkens
    January 16, 2013 at 10:18 am

    I’m a Kale fan – will definitely give this a go! thanks

  35. Tiffany
    January 18, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Great recipe! I love your photos too! 🙂

  36. Somer
    January 22, 2013 at 4:51 am

    You really are going greener 🙂 I have a confession to make. I never liked brussels sprouts either until 6 months ago when a neighbor showed me how to roast them properly. Now I can even eat them raw. Go figure.

    • frugalfeeding
      January 22, 2013 at 9:45 am

      Hehe – indeed! Hmm, I’d not eat them raw…

  37. J Pisani
    January 23, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    Ever tried pasta with rapini (broccoli rabe)? It’s great too.

    • frugalfeeding
      January 27, 2013 at 8:59 pm

      Nope, sounds nice!

      • J Pisani
        January 28, 2013 at 1:50 pm

        Some people find the taste of rapini to be bitter, but I like it.

  38. Joss
    November 11, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    I make this with added chickpeas to bulk it out and add protein. With some balsamic vinegar drizzled over the top yum! I love kale, had it most recently stir fried with mushrooms, chilli , garlic, soy sauce and Chinese 5 spice.

    • frugalfeeding
      November 12, 2013 at 1:11 pm

      Great idea – I’m a big fan of bulking!

  39. Debbie Leigh
    January 10, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    Great website and recipes – thank you! We posted a link in the customer newsletter for Riverside Market Garden!

  40. Nancy
    June 11, 2014 at 2:29 am

    wow! I just found this recipe and really didn’t expect much but it was AMAZING. instead of chilis I added a sprinkling of hot sauce and I added parmesan. I almost ate the whole thing myself. Thank you so much.

    • frugalfeeding
      June 20, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      Never underestimate a recipe 😀 – so glad you liked it.

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