Pasta with Greens ‘n Things

This recipe is a loosely modified version of a recipe from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s cookbook Color Me Vegan.  Honestly, I thought the recipe could use more flavor, so I added the cheesy flavor of nutritional yeast and tangy, slightly salty sun-dried tomatoes.  The original recipe called for fresh basil, but all I had was dried (my plants have surrendered to the cold weather).  Use what you have a the base of this recipe is blank slate – sliced kalamata olives, artichokes, and/or rosemary would be nice as well!

Also, feel free to use whatever greens you have on hand or like.  I love kale, so of course I used that.  Colleen’s recipe suggests mustard or dandelion greens, and since I had never had dandelion greens, I decided to give them a try.  Her recipe calls for 2 lbs of greens, but I just bought one bundle of each type of green at Whole Foods and didn’t weigh them and it worked out fine.  Spinach would work well too, but keep in mind that it will cook down significantly more than denser greens like kale.

1 lb penne pasta
1 Tablespoon salt
2 big bunches of greens, washed de-stemmed, and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons pine nuts
2 teaspoons dried basil (or 2 tablespoons fresh, julienned)
1/2 cup or so of oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
3 Tablespoons of nutritional yeast (or vegan parmesan)
black pepper, to taste

Boil the greens in a large pot of water with the salt until tender (5-8 minutes or so).  Scoop them out with a slotted spoon (KEEP the cooking water) and immediately put them into a bowl of ice water to keep them from cooking any further (this is called blanching!). 

Now place your pasta into the same water that the greens cooked in and return to a boil.  Cook according to the package directions for al dente pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, put the pine nuts into a small pan and dry roast them over medium heat, shaking the pan every minute or so.  Once they start to look shiny, keep a watch on them.  You want them to be a light golden color, but don’t burn them or they will be bitter.  When they are done, remove them from the heat.

While you have the pine nuts and the pasta cooking, put a large, deep skillet over medium heat and add the garlic and olive oil to the pan.  Stir the garlic around until it starts to turn golden, but be careful not to burn it.  Drain the greens, squeeze out the excess water with your hands, separate them, and add them to the garlic and oil.  Warm through for 2 minutes and then remove from the heat.

Once your pasta is done, drain it and add it to the oil and garlic and toss it together with the pine nuts, basil, nutritional yeast, sun-dried tomatoes, and pepper to taste.

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