Potatoes and cabbage remind me of the diet Charlie Bucket and his family survived on before Willy Wonka's golden ticket came their way. But prepare these humble ingredients with a little Italian flair, and you'll have an elegant, affordable dish.
This gnocchi and red cabbage gratin may have a minimal ingredient list, but the process of slow cooking the cabbage and presenting the little dumplings beneath a sprinkle of crispy breadcrumbs makes it both completely winning and totally cheap.
Shopping List: 1 pound fresh potato gnocchi, $2.50; 1.5 pounds red cabbage, $2.30; 2 slices sourdough bread (prorated), $0.50.
Pantry Items: Butter, olive oil, caraway seeds, salt.
Total Cost (for 3-4 portions): $5.30
About the authors: Phoebe and Cara are the co-founders of Big Girls, Small Kitchen, a food and cooking website for twenty-something cooks looking for user-friendly, affordable ways to navigate their kitchens. They have a heated, decade-long rivalry about whose Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie is the best. Their book, Big Girls, Small Kitchen, will be published in the spring of 2011 by William Morrow. Visit their blog here.
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:2 hours
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 3/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- About 5 cups thinly sliced red cabbage (from 1.5 pounds)
- 1 pound fresh potato gnocchi
- 1 cup fresh sourdough breadcrumbs, made from 2 slices stale soudough bread
Heat the olive oil over high heat until it shimmers. Add the caraway seeds and cook them for about 30 seconds. Add the butter and let it melt, then add the onion and cabbage and cook for 1-2 minutes, tossing to coat all the vegetables with the fat.
Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. The cabbage should be completely wilted, almost buttery. Add ¾ teaspoon salt and stir to distribute.
When there are about 20 minutes left to go on the cabbage, bring a pot of water to boiling. Salt it generously, then add the gnocchi. Cook for just 1 minute—any more and they’ll start to fall apart. Drain in a colander and rinse with cool water.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
In a 9 x 13 inch baking pan, spread about ¾ of the cabbage. Arrange the gnocchi on top of the cabbage in one layer. Top with heaps of the remaining cabbage, making sure not to leave some gnocchi exposed so they get crispy.
Sprinkle the breadcrumbs across the top and top with freshly ground pepper. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are toasted and the gratin is bubbly. Serve immediately.