Caramelized Cabbage and Noodles with Lemon and Herbs
Hungarian cuisine has a particularly “noodle-forward” concept of comfort food. When traveling in Budapest several years back, I noticed (and leaned eagerly into) a recurring theme of noodles, dumplings, and other forms of homey starches on restaurant menus and in home kitchens alike. There were rustic, spaetzle-like noodles called nokedli, many varieties of stuffed dumplings, baked noodle puddings, and diós tészta, a sweet dish that coats broad noodles with a copious showering of ground walnuts and sugar.Above all was káposztás tészta, or cabbage noodles. This more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts dish sautés a pile of sliced onions and an equal amount of shredded cabbage until silky, deeply browned, and caramelized. The whole delightful mess is then folded into softened dumplings or egg noodles, still warm from the pot. The effect is truly dazzling.Variations of cabbage noodles are served across Central and Eastern Europe from Poland to the Czech Republic. Depending on where it’s being made, the dish might be dressed up with a sprinkling of paprika or ground poppy seeds, studded with salty nibs of bacon, or folded with other sautéed vegetables or cottage cheese. I like to brighten it up with a hit of lemon zest and heaps of fresh dill, parsley, and chives. It’s just enough sunshiny flavor to elevate the dish while sacrificing none of its deeply cozy and comforting soul.