This is simple comfort food and uses a lot of cabbage. Leftovers are delicious. In this version I added a handful of small, tubetti pasta, which is totally optional.
You could add lots of chopped parsley or oregano or basil or chives to the dish as you’re assembling it, before baking. You could use other vegetables. I imagine diced winter squash instead of the potatoes would be fabulous and very pretty. Sausage, bacon or any kind of leftover meat would be good. You can vary the cheeses, omit entirely, and so on and so forth!
4 Tablespoons butter
4 Tablespoons flour
generous 2 cups of whole or 2% milk
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg or cloves
3/4 grated cheese (sharp cheddar, Gruyère, Emmentaler, . . .)
Fresh minced thyme, parsley, chives, etc. (optional)
Melt butter in a medium-sized saucepan over med/low heat. When melted, whisk in flour. Continue cooking the roux for 2 -3 min, whisking frequently. Meanwhile heat milk until it’s scalding. Whisk hot milk into roux and add salt, black pepper, chili flakes (or omit if you’d like), add mustard and a bay leaf and a grating or two of nutmeg. Stir well and cook over med/low heat for about 10 minutes until thickened and bubbling. Add the cheese and fresh, chopped herbs, if, using.
For the Gratin
3-5 potatoes (depending on size) and cut into thumb-sized chunks
1/2 medium to large green cabbage (or a whole small one), cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
Handful or two of small pasta (optional)
Bread crumbs (optional)
1/2 cup grated cheese (sharp cheddar, Gruyère, Emmentaler, . . .) (optional)
Put potatoes in a large pot with lots of water and two teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil. If you are using some kind of pasta you’ll want to add it to the potatoes so they’re both done at the same time. The pasta can be quite al dente when you drain everything though since it will keep cooking in the oven. When the potatoes (and pasta, if using) are almost tender add the cabbage to the pot. Cover and cook for another few minutes until the cabbage is tender. Drain.
Spread the vegetables in a large baking dish. Pour the béchamel over the top and mix in a bit. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and optional cheese and bake at 400 until bubbly and crisp on top. Run under the broiler for a few minutes for more browning.