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sautéed purple cabbage with pasta

purple cabbage with pastaDo you ever wish you could turn back time?  I do, not to alter events but to be more inquisitive with my elders thus being able to pass the story-telling torch onto my children.  My great, great paternal grandmother, Anna Marie Schmeltzer (Nanny Kent), died when I was 11 – she was 86.  My memories of her are limited but what I do recall most was her caring and loving way, the food she cooked was heavenly, and she always seemed happy even though her life wasn’t easy. 

Born in Bohemia in 1886, she immigrated to Canada with her father when she was 6 – I do not know if her mother was alive when they left.  At a tender age of 10, my grandmother cleaned homes to earn her keep.  According to my mom, Nanny Kent’s father moved to another province and left her behind leaving her to seek out help from the local Baptist church.  She was born and raised Catholic and converted, as she put it, because they were so kind to her.   She married when she was 16.    These are some of her stories passed down…I wish I was wise enough to have asked my nanny how she managed at such a young age and the obstacles she endured as an outsider.  During the first world war, Nanny Kent had to carry her ID with her at all times even though she was married, with her first child (my grandmother) while her Canadian husband was serving in the war.  The military would knock on her door to check her papers and this regular inspection went on until the war was over.

If I were given the opportunity to turn back the time, oh the questions I would ask!  With my propensity for cooking, I would have wanted to know other dishes she cooked and what was her favorite.  Four generations later and we still talk fondly of Nanny Kent’s German dinners.  These dinners consisted of knodelen dumplings (potato dumplings), hot purple slaw, and roast pork with gravy.  A meal that sticks to the ribs and was so darn delicious!  As a tribute to my sweet great, great grandmother I have deconstructed her purple slaw recipe.  If she were around today I think she would approve.

sautéed purple cabbage with pasta
Prep time

Cook time

Total time


Serves: 2

  • ½ small purple cabbage, sliced thinly (about 1½ to 2 cups)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons caraway seeds (more if you like)
  • 3 slices bacon, chopped
  • ½ fennel bulb, thinly sliced (roughly 1 cup)
  • olive oil
  • ¼ to ½ cup chicken broth or water
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • splash sushi rice vinegar
  • 3 to 4 handfuls broad pasta noodles
  • chopped parsley, for garnish

  1. Cook noodles according to packet instruction. While the noodles are cooking, grab a large frying pan and place over medium heat; add bacon and cook until golden brown. Remove from pan. Top with a splash of olive oil, if needed, and add cabbage and fennel. Sauté until veggies begin to soften then add caraway seeds, splash of rice vinegar, bacon, and ¼ cup chicken broth. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes or until liquid has reduced slightly.
  2. Reserve some of the pasta water. Toss drained noodles into frying pan, season to taste. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.


fennel, purple cabbage, noodlesThe Culinary Chase’s Note:  If the veggies look a bit dry, add a spoonful or more of the pasta water to loosen it up.  Enjoy!

About Heather Chase

The Culinary Chase was coined by my husband whilst in a coffee shop in Hong Kong back in 2006. We wanted something that would be a play on my last name and by the time we finished our coffee, the name was born. As long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed cooking. It wasn’t until we moved to Asia that I began to experiment using herbs and spices in my everyday cooking. Not only do they enhance the flavor of food but also heighten it nutritionally. Over the years, I began to change our diet to include more vegetables, pulses, whole grains and less red meat. Don’t get me wrong, we love our meat, just not in super-size portions (too hard for the body to digest). I always use the palm of my hand as a guide to portion control when eating red meat. If the meat is larger than my hand, I save that portion for another day. Also, if the veggies on your plate look colorful (think the colors of the rainbow) – red, green, yellow, orange etc. then you’re most likely getting the right amount of nutrients per meal. I post recipes that I think help maintain a healthy body. I use the 80/20 rule – 80% of the time I make a conscious effort to eat healthy and 20% for when I want french fries with gravy (poutine). Balance is the key and to enjoy life with whatever comes my way. Thanks for visiting!


The views and opinions expressed in this content are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of haligonia.ca.


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