Krautfleckle {Cabbage Pasta}

Maybe I should be running this post under Swabian Cuisine, but let me tell you what my online research said, then you can decide for yourself. This is a dish my paternal grandmother used to make. None of my friends – and they come from various cultural backgrounds – have ever heard of it, and I’ve never seen it on a Swabian restaurant menu either. My Hungarian voice teacher was the only one who knew Krautfleckle, which made me think that my grandmother must have picked this up somewhere along the trek through Europe during the war. Now I found out that this recipe is not only known in Hungary and Austria, but is indeed deemed Swabian as well.

What does Krautfleckle mean, though? Kraut is cabbage, and Fleckle could be loosely translated as little patches or squares. You can make this with regular white cabbage, but if it’s the season here we make it with a variety that is smaller, pointy, and has leaves that are more tender than those of a round cabbage.

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My grandmother used to make the little pasta squares from scratch, my mother nowadays uses shop bought broad, short pasta. That’s OK if you’re in a hurry but I have to say it’s no match for the homemade version. The size of the pasta squares is a matter of taste, I used to love my grandmothers smaller and thicker ones, which is what I made today.

If you’re not convinced yet this is worth making, maybe this will convince you: I called my sister earlier today to tell her I was making Krautfleckle and asked if she’d like to come for dinner tonight. Her reply: I don’t believe this! Mom invited me for Krautfleckle tonight as well, but I know she won’t be making the pasta herself, so I’m going to call her right away and tell her I’ll be eating with you…

The voice teacher I mentioned insisted I had to try this sprinkled with icing sugar. I could never bring myself to do that, but today – for the sake of research – I tried it. Honestly? I didn’t like it at all. I prefer the basic version, which by the way my sister and I top with a dollop of sour cream.

If you knew this dish before you landed on this post, or if it’s even a recipe used in your family, I’d be interested to know about its history, how you came by it!

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Krautfleckle {Cabbage Pasta}

600 g flour
6 eggs
2 small pointy cabbages or 1 large round cabbage
sour cream (optional)

Make a pasta dough from flour, eggs and 2 tsp salt. Once the dough has come together and is firm, knead it with your hands for a few more minutes.

Divide dough in 4 – 6 manageable pieces, roll out relatively thin, then cut into strips first and then into squares. Leave them sitting while you get started on the cabbage.

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Thinly grate the cabbage on a mandoline. Heat a large non-stick pan, melt a very generous amount of butter, and add the grated cabbage. [You might need to add half of it first until it folds in a little, then add the rest.] Start out frying the cabbage on the highest setting, adding more butter if necessary. Once you’ve fit all the cabbage into the pan, add 2 tsp of salt. When the cabbage starts browning, reduce heat and cover with a lid. The cabbage will reduce in volume and should brown, although it will likely not brown evenly. This is OK, as are a few almost burnt patches.

While the cabbage cooks, start boiling water for the pasta. Use only 3 tbsp water as the cabbage is already salted! Add the squares in batches and make sure to check if they’re done every now and then. They will float to the surface very quickly but depending on their size and thickness may take a little longer to cook than usual. When all the pasta is done, drain well and add to the cabbage.

Stir well, turn heat back up, and let cook until some of the pasta starts browning. Serve as is, with a salad, or topped with sour cream.

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