Spicy Cabbage with Pancetta and Shrimp

For the first time in what feels like many weeks, I was inspired to cook, and I have my original blogging inspiration to thank. Luisa from The Wednesday Chef posted this recipe, and it immediately grabbed me. It’s been a long while since I had that I-must-try-this-tonight feeling, and it’s good to have it return. I missed you, apron.

Transitions are always hard for me, and even though I’m very blessed to have a great work environment and lots of support on the homefront, I still struggle mightily with change. Eventually I get my bearings and wind up exactly where I belong, but it’s not always an easy journey.

I celebrated my 45th birthday yesterday. I have loved my forties so far and agree with everyone who told me it’s a great decade: lots of wisdom, and no time for nonsense. My only complaint is that the past five years really zoomed by, and at this rate I will be fifty before I know it. Not that that’s so terrible (as they say, better than the alternative), but I am always amazed at how each year goes by quicker than the last once you hit a certain age. Both at my very first job and my current job, I see a lot of fabulous, vibrant people in their seventies and eighties, so I know the party isn’t necessarily over just quite yet.

I was off the last two days and managed to pack in a lot of fun. Caught up on my Real Housewives of Beverly Hills while folding loads of laundry, just like the good old days. Had two long lunches with two different friends. Browsed Target, my former home away from home, at a leisurely pace. And, finally, blogged.

This is a very forgiving recipe which lends itself easily to variations. Sambal Oelek is this stuff, and it’s stocked in all my grocery stores (even the super white bready ones). I used pancetta, but you can omit it or use bacon. I used shrimp, but you can omit it or add another meat, chicken or shellfish. Luisa’s version is slightly different but I am sure equally easy and delicious. Serve with a hearty bread and call it a meal.

Spicy Cabbage with Pancetta and Shrimp

Serves 4

1 head green cabbage, sliced in strips
1 onion, chopped
4 Tablespoons peanut or canola oil
4 oz. pancetta, diced
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon Sambal Oelek or more to taste
10 to 15 large cooked shrimp

In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat and add chopped onion. Once softened, add pancetta and cook until brown. Add cabbage and cook for ten minutes, stirring often. Add tomatoes, salt, and sambal oelek. Cover and lower heat for about ten minutes. Add cooked shrimp or other meat and serve.


spatially challenged

The above picture is for my long-suffering Ed, who has dealt with my spatial challenges for over twenty years. Clearly he wasn’t home for me to ask, “Will this all fit in that bowl?” Note: Nine times out of ten, the answer is usually no.

spicy cabbage


6 thoughts on “Spicy Cabbage with Pancetta and Shrimp

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