It’s been a long while since we’ve posted a recipe but this one is deserving because it has become a staple and rIAm’s new favourite pasta. In fact, it’s so good it’s nearly replaced pasta e broccoli, although that has more to do with rIAm’s total revulsion to broccoli in pregnancy and the fact that broccoli is in the cabbage family, which means it has a good chance of giving Max gas if rIAm consumes while breastfeeding. But I’m not complaining because this is darn good pasta, and the version we made yesterday especially good with essentially an organic 100 mile diet version.
In the above photo (larger version on flickr) are all the ingredients (except for the pasta and olive oil) we used yesterday. This dish can be done with just spinach or just swiss chard, but we had a nice mix of fresh things that we decided to combine and I think it’s the best version we’ve made yet.
But the ingredients. In the lower left is green garlic. This is basically just a young garlic plant, although it’s getting a bit late in the season for it so this particular one was already starting to form individual cloves and had a tough woody interior stalk I had to cut out. Green garlic kind of looks like green onion (but on steroids) and has a wonderful garlic flavour that isn’t super intense. You use it like green onion, although since this one was more mature the white part we added like we would garlic.
In the upper left is sea asparagus or salicornia. This breaks the 100 mile part of the diet, but it was harvested wild this week and brought to Toronto (albeit by unknown means, not very eco-minded of us) but has a wonderful saltiness from the sea. It’s nice to crunch on raw but also gave us nice flavour and all the salt we needed in the final dish. It’s also super sustainable as you basically can’t over-harvest – it keeps coming back.
In the top right, slightly out of focus (and, in focus, right of centre), is organic spinach grown right in the GTA, harvested last Sunday or Monday morning. It has the tenderness of baby spinach from California but is the size of regular spinach. The flavour is mild but more pronounced than the stuff from California and never leaves that weird cooked spinach feeling in the mouth that I find the California stuff yields.
In the middle-right and looking kind of like an oak leaf is “baby” kale. It’s not really baby and it’s a particular variety I don’t remember, but it’s grown right in Etobicoke in what amounts to backyard gardens and is harvested young and super tender. It can be eaten raw or lightly cooked. Obviously, we lightly cooked it.
Last, in the lower right (and middle) is swiss chard, which was grown in the GTA and harvested last Monday morning. It has such a wonderful fresh and crisp flavour and is much more tender after cooking than the regular supermarket stuff.
And you thought this was a recipe? Well, it is. It’s just ridiculously easy is all so I talked about our nice ingredients first.
Pasta (we just use a whole package)
Greens (however much you like)
Garlic (again, as you like it)
Chili peppers (fresh or dried flakes, to taste)
Pine nuts (preferably toasted)
Olive oil (extra virgin folks, the rest ain’t worth having)
1. Set water to boil for pasta.
2. Rough chop the greens. They’ll wilt some so don’t try to make them too small, but long pieces of greens are less fun to eat. Peel regular garlic cloves and either cut ‘em small or have your garlic press ready.
3. Add pasta to boiling, salted water. A third to halfway through cooking time set olive oil over medium heat (or slightly less than that) in a large pot (like a wok) that you can add pasta to. Add garlic to oil as it’s heating, once it sizzles add chili flakes if you’re using them.
4. Once the pasta is nearly done add swiss chard stems and/or any other parts of the greens that need a little extra time to cook. Drain the pasta.
5. Add greens to pan and toss. After no more than a minute add the pasta and toss well. Add more oil if it seems too dry. Add a pinch of salt to taste (ideally kosher or sea salt).
6. Serve. Each individual should add ricotta and pine nuts to taste (or do it for them for attractive presentation).
7. Eat, enjoy, etc.
We made this yesterday with an integrale organic pasta that was super delicious with the greens and used a 6% ricotta that was quite nice, but would have been nicer with either more fat or perhaps made by an artisan and not a big (Ontario) dairy, but we used what we had. Any fresh cheese would be nice, btw, so give things like queso fresco a chance if you’re not a ricotta person.
OK, so that’s the recipe and our delicious new pasta.