(Ike DeLorenzo for The Boston Globe)
November 11, 2009

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Serves 4

A hearty, old-fashioned dish designed to repurpose stale bread, stombauta is a meatless meal that’s filling and inexpensive to make. To turn this into a vegetarian version, use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 Savoy cabbage
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 leek, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bunch fresh parsley, stemmed and chopped
2 cans (15 ounces each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes, lightly crushed in a bowl
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups day-old crusty Italian bread cut into roughly 1-inch cubes
Extra olive oil (for sprinkling)
1 bunch fresh basil, stemmed and chopped
Freshly grated Parmesan (for serving)
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Peel off each leaf of the cabbage and cut away the stem. Blanch the cabbage leaves for 1 minute. Turn the heat off and let them sit in the water for 15 minutes. Drain the leaves. Cut the cabbage very thinly into strips; set aside.

2. In a large flameproof casserole over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the celery, onion, and leek. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.

3. Add the cabbage, parsley, beans, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.

4. Stir in the tomatoes and 1/2 cup of the chicken stock. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the bread cubes with the remaining 1/2 cup stock and enough olive oil to coat it lightly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

6. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bread, stirring often, for 20 minutes or unitl it is dry and golden.

7. Add the bread a few pieces at a time to the bean mixture. Stir in the basil. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Ladle into bowls and serve with Parmesan. Ike DeLorenzo