Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Recipe of the Month: Mix-and-Match Pasta With Greens

The Recipe of the Month for November is actually a variation on a dish we've made many times before. It's out of the cookbook Easy Vegetarian Dinners, from Better Homes and Gardens, where it's called "Cavatelli with Arugula and Dried Cranberries." However, even this version of the recipe notes that you can substitute rotini for the cavatelli, spinach for the arugula, and raisins for the cranberries. So all Brian really did when he made it last weekend was to substitute pecans for the almonds or pistachios suggested in the original recipe. However, he noted in the process that he had, at that point, replaced just about every ingredient in the dish; only the garlic, olive oil, and veggie broth remained unchanged.

I considered this point and realized that this dish is really, for all practical purposes, a fill-in-the-blank recipe. You can substitute in just about any type of pasta, greens, fruit, or nuts for any other, and it will still taste good. So I'm sharing the mix-and-match version of the recipe, with our latest version as an example.

  1. Cook 1/2 pound of any short pasta (cavatelli, rotini, rotelle, penne, orecchiete, bow ties, etc.) according to package directions. (The version shown here uses rotini.) 
  2. While pasta is cooking, mince 2 cloves garlic and saute in 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat for 1 minute. Add 4 cups of dark leafy greens (arugula, spinach, mustard greens, kale, etc.), torn into smallish pieces, to the pan and cook until just wilted—about 1 or 2 minutes more. (This version uses spinach.)
  3. When the pasta is done, drain and toss with 1/2 cup vegetable broth. Add the greens, along with 1/2 cup of any dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, cherries, sultanas, etc.) and 1/2 cup of toasted chopped nuts (sliced almonds, pistachios, pecans, walnuts, etc.) Toss to combine.
  4. Serve with finely shredded Parmesan cheese, to taste.
It's nothing fancy, but it's easy, quick, and almost infinitely variable. Whatever you've got in the pantry, you can make it work.
Post a Comment