Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Pasta's Always Greener on the Other Side

It's good to eat simply and lightly, to enjoy the flavor of the vegetables and to leave the table feeling refreshed but not stuffed.

That's why I'm not complaining about going without power for nearly 50 hours. I feel better for having eaten less food, more mindfully.

But I have electricity now, and I'm not afraid to use it!

Among this week's market finds was something I've eaten with other greens before, but not on its own: arugula.


Looks like any other green, right? And if it has lovely creamy white flowers, it must be fairly tame and harmless, right?

Well, right on the first count. The taste of arugula, though, is definitely an acquired one, especially when the leaves are larger and more mature, as this bunch is. Bitter, tangy, edgy... take your pick of adjectives. It ain't for the faint of heart.

I found a recipe in Local Flavors for a pasta dish using larger arugula leaves, and I meant to try that recipe straight up, no tweaks or "improvements."

On the other hand, I also really wanted my comfort food favorite broccoli-walnut pasta since I had some fresh organic broccoli calling my name. So what was I to do?

Oh, Dear Readers, you're so clever... yes, of course I combined the recipes!

I combined whole wheat spiral pasta with chopped broccoli and a quick saute of thin slices of organic garlic, chopped walnuts, black pepper, spinach, and arugula with a splash of lemon juice. With a handful of herbed feta and some snipped garlic chives from the garden, the dish ended up as a beautiful melange of texture and shades of green.

Though the strong arugula flavor still came through, it was tempered nicely by the milder greens, the rich garlic, and the crunchy walnuts. The whole dish made a satisfying meal... plus leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.

After lots of salad, I was ready for a more substantial but still healthy meal.

And with greens like that, I'd have that pasta again any time.


Greener Goddess Pasta

The recipe for pasta with "overgrown" arugula in Local Flavors isn't too far from my traditional favorite, broccoli-walnut pasta, so the two ideas were meant to be combined. Feel free to vary the greens in your dish; just make sure you cook them lightly in order to keep that vibrant green color. As for herbs, fresh parsley would work well if you have no chives, and depending on your vegetables, you could also consider fresh basil, fresh dill, or even fresh mint. Substitute a mild cheese for the feta, or omit it altogether. It's your pasta, and you're the only one who knows what divine tastes like to you!

2 c or so whole wheat pasta (something with character, please)
1 c chopped broccoli
1 to 2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 T olive oil
dash of black pepper
1/4 c chopped walnuts
2 c rinsed, chopped spinach
1 c rinsed, chopped arugula
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 T snipped fresh chives
1/4 c feta cheese

Boil whole wheat pasta in pot of salted water until it begins to give. Add broccoli and cook another 1-2 minutes more, until pasta is al dente and broccoli is bright green but tender. Drain and rinse. Set aside.

In same pot, saute garlic in olive oil until it begins to brown slightly. Add dash of black pepper and walnuts, and saute another minute or two longer. (Add them at the beginning if you don't like your garlic toasty; I do.) Toss in chopped greens and stir until they have decreased in volume and turned bright green. Splash lemon juice over greens and stir. Add drained pasta and broccoli to the pot, drizzle with a little more olive oil if needed, and toss in chives and feta. Mix well and serve to hungry people.

Serves 2

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home