Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pasta and Greens

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Start to Finish Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

WHEN THE AIR is crisp and the leaves begin to turn, leafy greens come into their prime. I like to buy fresh greens at my local farmers' market. Somehow, they just taste better.

I adore mustard greens. They can be as spicy hot as mustard, yet as tender as spinach. Turnip greens are great too, but if you prefer a milder green, opt for spinach, collards, or escarole. All of these greens are packed with vitamins and minerals, and they are extremely low in calories.

The following recipe can be prepared with pantry staples, greens, and a little Parmesan cheese. It's also highly adaptable. You can use prewashed or frozen greens. If you like, stir in a little cream just before serving. And remember: greens cook down to less than half their original volume. Enjoy!
-- Judy Feagin

Pasta and Greens

* 1 8-ounce package pasta
* 1/2 cup chopped onion
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 14.5-ounce can vegetable broth
* 1 pound fresh greens (mustard, turnip, spinach, kale, escarole, or collard)
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.

In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, saute onion and garlic in oil 2 minutes. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Gradually add fresh greens, stirring constantly. Cover and cook 3 to 10 minutes, depending on the greens selected. Stir in cooked pasta, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.

Choosing Your Greens

Collard greens are dark, leafy greens in the cabbage family. Unlike cabbages, they don't form a head. Closely related to kale, collards taste like a cross between kale and cabbage.

Escarole is a variety of endive with broad, pale-green leaves with slightly curved edges. Milder in flavor than either Belgium endive or curly endive, escarole can be eaten raw or cooked. Peak season is June to October.

Kale has a mild cabbage-like flavor. The leaves are frilly and deep green with shades of blues and purple. Available year-round.

Mustard greens are the peppery leaves of the mustard plant. They are dark green and have a pungent flavor.

Spinach leaves are dark green and spear-shaped, and are either curled or smooth depending on the variety. Because the leaves grow so close to the ground, they need a thorough cleaning to avoid grittiness.

Turnip greens are slightly sweet when young. However, they develop a strong, sharp, slightly bitter flavor as they age. Available year-round.

- Adapted from The New Food Lover's Companion (third edition)

Cleaning Your Greens

To prepare greens, remove tough stems and discolored spots, then wash the greens at least three times in lots of cold water. Drain and roughly chop. Store greens in heavy-duty zip-top bags lined with damp paper towels up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Posted by Debi

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