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Penne Pasta Recipe From The Currabinny Cookbook

This Penne Pasta Recipe From The Currabinny Cookbook, is another variation – an elevation, we go so far as to say! – of bacon and cabbage. Leftover ham is one of the most useful things you can have in your fridge.

It’s unbeatable here paired with its traditional companion – cabbage – and a garlicky pesto. Wild garlic pops up everywhere in early spring; make a big batch of this pesto when it’s in season and you’ll use it year round.


– 200g penne pasta
– 1 tbsp. butter
– Olive oil
– 1 savoy cabbage, shredded
– 100g cooked ham, or speck, prosciutto or pancetta
– 1 pickled walnut, sliced
– Grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

For The Pesto

– 75g wild garlic, stalks removed
– 30g fresh flat-leaf parsley, stalks removed
– Juice of 1⁄2 a lemon
– 80ml rapeseed oil, plus extra to seal the jar
– 30g Parmesan cheese, grated
– 30g walnuts
– Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1. Put the ingredients for the pesto into a food processor and blitz to a smooth paste. Decant into a sterilized jar and pour a little rapeseed oil over the top to seal. Refrigerate until needed (it will keep this way for 2 weeks).
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add the penne and cook according to the packet instructions.
3. Meanwhile, put the butter and a drop of olive oil into a large, heavy-based frying pan on a medium heat and add the shredded cabbage.
4. Season with a little salt and pepper. Cook the cabbage for 3 to 4 minutes until wilted*, then tear in the ham and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add a little of the pasta water if it looks dry.
5. Add 2 tablespoons of the wild garlic pesto and stir to combine, then cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes.
6. When the pasta is cooked, drain in a colander and add to the pan, stirring the sauce into the pasta until it is all well coated. Serve with a few slices of pickled walnut on top, and offer some extra grated Parmesan.

*We would usually cook the cabbage so that it’s softer and less crisp than the cabbage in the photograph. You can cook it to taste.



Dubliner James Kavanagh is one of Ireland’s most entertaining and most popular social media personalities. He worked in PR for a number of years and with his partner, William Murray, he started the food company Currabinny in 2013.

William Murray grew up in Currabinny on Cork Harbour where he cooked from an early age. Having completed a fine arts degree in sculpture he trained as a chef at world famous Ballymaloe Cookery School. William and James live in Dublin.

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