This super simple pasta is surprisingly satisfying and hearty without being heavy.
If you can find Rustichella d'Abruzzo orchiette or any other imported orchiette go with that.
Imported pastas tend to be toothier and tastier, because they are dried longer and made with hard wheat.
4 oz pancetta
1/2 a head of green cabbage
6 ounces orecchiette
Chop the pancetta into a small dice and set aside. Chop 1/2 a head of cabbage— I like a small chop so that each bite has pasta, cabbage and pancetta, and set aside.
Cook the pancetta in a deep sauté pan over medium-low heat until the pancetta is a deep golden brown and the fat has rendered. Add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and cook the cabbage over medium-low heat until it gets wilty and sweet— about 15-20 minutes.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Once it boils add 1 teaspoon of salt. About 10 minute into cooking the cabbage start cooking the pasta following your packages instructions— err on the side of a true al dente. The pasta will finish cooking with the sauce.
Reserve one cup of the pasta water and drain your pasta. Add the pasta to the pan with the pancetta & cabbage. Add a 1-2 Tablespoon glug of olive oil and a 1/4 cup of pasta water into the pan and continue to cook your pasta for about 5-6 minutes, tossing, stirring, and adding a little more olive oil and pasta water if needed— you probably won't use all the pasta water but you have it there just in.case.
You want to cook the pasta until the sauce thickens with the starch from the pasta and looks coated in a sauce made of pasta water, olive oil, pancetta, and cabbage. Once you get to the desired look and texture, taste it and sprinkle a little salt— if needed.