Donegal Table: Fifteen-Minute Orzo Pasta with Bacon and Cabbage

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A modern take on the traditional Irish dish of bacon and cabbage from chef Brian McDermott’s new book ‘Donegal Table‘ published by The O’Brien Press.  ‘I’ve fallen in love with orzo pasta’, says Brian. ‘It’s easy to cook, looks like rice and allows me to cheat and make a poor man’s risotto. This recipe is designed to enable you to cook a tasty dish in fifteen minutes.’

Serves 4


300 g orzo pasta
6 rashers dry-cured bacon
Rapeseed oil
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
3 leaves cabbage/kale
40g butter
80ml cream
80g Parmesan cheese, grated

To serve
10g Parmesan cheese, grated
Handful of fresh basil


1. Add the orzo pasta to a pot of boiling water and cook for 8 minutes.

2. While the pasta is cooking, slice the bacon into strips.

3. Heat a drizzle of rapeseed oil in a frying pan then add the garlic followed by the bacon. Cook for a few minutes then drop in the thyme and a sprinkle of black pepper.

4. Roll the washed cabbage or kale leaves and shred. Add to the pan and cook for 2 minutes, then add the butter and cream and simmer for 3 minutes.

5. Drain the pasta and add another drizzle of rapeseed oil. Combine the pasta with the bacon and cabbage or kale in the pot. Add the grated Parmesan and lightly stir.

6. Serve in pasta bowls with more Parmesan and some basil leaves sprinkled on top.

Brian’s Tip
For a slightly spicier dish, replace the bacon with chorizo or try adding some diced red peppers and chopped basil.

BRIAN MCDERMOTT is an award-winning chef who is passionate about sharing his love of food with others. As a host, presenter and demonstrator, he is one of the most sought-after chefs on the Irish food-festival circuit. He also runs his own cookery school in Moville, County Donegal and is a food consultant to some of the best-known names in Irish food. He is the author of the successful cookery book Reunite with Food and is a regular on RTÉ and BBC television and radio, and in the local and national press. He lives in Moville with his wife, Brenda, and daughters, Niamh and Aoife.

Where to buy the Donegal Table
You’ll find the Donegal Table on sale at good bookstores in Ireland, at our Amazon link below and at the O’Brien Press online store.



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