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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pasta and Homegrown Greens

I am such a crappy photographer
We had this again last night. I've mentioned this dish numerous times, because it is truly one of my favorite dishes. I started making it with kale, because I was a little dubious of kale, but I still wanted to get more greens in my diet because they are supposed to be so good for you.  Now I make it with whatever greens I can get my hands on.  This week's version was collard greens I harvested awhile ago and kept in the fridge this way, and some frozen Swiss chard that I grew.  I've decided that I haven't outgrown my childhood dislike of chard, so I won't grow it again- there are a lots of other greens that satisfy the need for something easy to grow that you can cut and come again.  Kale, for instance.  Last spring I discovered that sprouting radish seeds (you know, radish seeds you buy for making sprouts for your salad) make terrible radishes (well, that's not what they were bred for, is it?) but they make great and really fast greens, so I've planted some of those again for that purpose.  When I first started making this, I used capellini because it cooks in three minutes, and it was easier to time the pasta and the greens being done at the same time, but now I use whatever kind of pasta that hits me because I'm pretty used to making this and getting everything to come out about the same time.  You will probably get used to it too.

Pasta and Greens
Serves Two

3 slices bacon, chopped
a healthy pinch of red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly or minced
2 large handfuls of chopped greens: kale, collards, chard, spinach, radish, turnip, etc.
one third to a half pound of pasta: capellini, linguine, gemelli, etc. or a recipe of homemade pasta, if you're so inclined.
extra virgin olive oil
water and salt
freshly grated Romano cheese (or Parmesan)

Put a large pot of water on to boil, with a lid on it so it boils faster. (Don't salt it yet)

While the water is coming to a boil, chop your bacon and brown on medium-low to low heat.  Throw your pinch of pepper flakes in once the bacon starts rendering some fat.

Once the bacon is done, add the sliced or minced garlic.  Stir it around to flavor the oil and to keep an eye on it so that it doesn't brown.  Once it starts to get just a tiny bit golden,  carefully add a ladle full of pasta water to the pan AND STEP BACK BECAUSE IT WILL SPATTER LIKE THE DICKENS!

Now add the chopped greens and put a lid on it.  The pasta water should be boiling by now, so add the salt to it, and then cook the pasta according to the directions.

Once the pasta is cooked the greens should be also.  Remove the lid from the greens, give them a good stir with some tongs, and if there's still a lot of liquid in the pan, turn up the heat.

Remove the pasta from the pot and put it on top of the greens and toss everything together. Keep the heat on and continue to cook it off if there is still liquid; otherwise turn off the heat and add a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.  Toss the pasta again and plate it up, sprinkling it generously with freshly grated Romano cheese.

I never get tired of this dish, and in the summer we eat it a lot because we have so much coming out of the garden and because it cooks up quickly.  One week while I was working, I was so brain dead by the time I got home that I made pasta and greens three times that week, and Steve never complained.

I hope you like it as much as we do.


yetanothersteve said...

No issues with this dish at all.

Danni said...

Hey, Paula - I needed a quick meal idea today and I made this tonight - yum! I used leftover ham from Christmas Eve that I had in the freezer instead of bacon and it was lovely.
I do love me some romano cheese!w

Paula said...

I LOVE Romano cheese too. I like Romano much better than Parmesan. I'm glad you liked it Danni. Try it with bacon next time! I'll have to try ham.

I asked Steve to post a comment because I hadn't had comments for two posts and I thought Blogger had the vapors again. He said this one was his third attempt, and that's why it's as terse as it is. So- maybe Blogger had the vapors I don't know.
I just thought it was weird I wasn't getting any comments from my regulars.

The important thing is, try this recipe! It sooooo good!

Rachael said...

This looks fantastic! I must definitely try it. I'm always looking for new recipes. Especially those which can incorporate seasonal foods.

Paula said...

You know, I love kale for that reason; I usually plant it twice a year, but may start planting it three times a year. It's such a champ and handles cold really, really well, so you can have fresh kale year 'round. If you do try this recipe Rachael, let me know how you liked it!

Danni said...

Paula, what variety of kale are you planting?

Paula said...

I'm going back to Red Russian, which is the first variety I planted, because it handled cold really well, and it's fairly flat, so it's easier to deal with in the kitchen. Last fall I planted Dwarf Siberian Improved, which handled cold well, and perform ok (not stellar, but just ok), however it's really curly so it's not so fun to cut up. For last summer I planted Lacinato, and it produced vigorously all summer long but was really prone to aphid attack and it smelled stinky, so I'm not so sure I'd do it again. I'm still using the Red Russian kale seed from the first time I planted it, and had excellent germination so I think I'll be sticking with this one. I'll see how it handles heat this summer; my guess is because of its Russian name, it'll probably bolt, but that would probably be a good time to sow again anyway. I guess we'll see.

Danni said...

Good information - thank you!

Paula said...

You're welcome. I'm trying Music garlic and Maestro peas because of you!

Danni said...

How are your peas doing? I thought I'd plant mine immediately upon my return from NM, but my garden is currently a sodden mud pit. :-(

Paula said...

The Serge are up, thanks to your timely suggestion of covering them, which did the trick. I just planted the Maestro a few days ago (last week?) but then, they're in a planter box with good drainage, so I think they'll be okay. I hope so, anyway. In any case, it looks like I'll be up to my pods in peas!

Danni said...

There can never be too many peas, in my opinion. :-)

Miriam said...

Hey Paula - I thought of you (and not myself, for reasons to do with my aversion to all things kale) when I learned of this website:

Me, I think I'll stick to chard...

Cottage Smallholder said...

Hi Paula

I agree with you about chard. I'm not growing it again this year as we just don't eat it! All for kale though and love the sprouts in the spring.

This dish sounds awesome. Can't wait to try it!

Rachel said...

I planted some swiss chard last year then tried to figure out what to do with it. Mark Bittman has a good recipe for Chard with Oranges and Shallots that the hubs (who's kind of picky) and I both liked alot. I must have read the recipe wrong though because it called for an unpeeled orange or tangerine. I didn't have either so I used half of a large can of mandarin oranges and really like it. Not sure I would have liked it with the peel if I had used the right ingredient. The pasta recipe sounds yummy!

Toni aka irishlas said...

First off, you are not a crappy photographer! That shot is spectacular from a photographic point of view!

Me, I'm a kale person. Unfortunately, hubsters is not.

Paula said...

Toni- then you should try this on him. Mostly what you taste is garlic, bacon, pepper, pasta and Romano. The kale kind of fades into the background. Try it at least once on him. And thanks for the compliment; I struggle with getting things in focus, and I don't think that shot was particularly sharp. Could be me, could be the camera; I think it's me.