We cook a lot of pasta and noodle dishes because it’s fast and easy and versatile enough that we don’t feel like we’re eating the same dish all the time. This is one of those dishes that came together easily based on what we had and the limited time to cook it.
This week, my daughter Jade was in the school musical, My Fair Lady. We went to see the show last Friday which is when I cooked this up for a quick supper before we went. I just hate it when my stomach grumbles in the theater, don’t you?
Spring has finally sprung here in the Carolinas and our ‘accidental’ winter garden has gifted us with a bounty of beautifully tender greens. I call it ‘accidental’ because we really didn’t plan or plant this bed, the greens just came back on their own since we were too lazy to clean the bed last fall. These plants just came up from the seeds that fell from last summer’s crop.
I could not resist, those lovely turnip greens have been calling me all week. I decided to pinch off a few leaves to put in the pasta instead of the store bought broccoli I had in the refrigerator.
While I was out there, I noticed another group of returnees in the garden, the flat leaf parsley and oregano!
I just had to have some of them too. And with all this green stuff, I had a pasta dinner ready in the time that it took to boil the water and cook the noodles. This was ready in under an hour! Here’s what you’ll need:
1 lb. Wheat Spaghetti (or any type pasta of your choice)
8 cloves Garlic, coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh Italian Parsley, chopped + ½ cup for garnish
¼ cup fresh Oregano, chopped
6 cups fresh Turnip Greens, sliced fine
¼ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
¼ cup EVOO (ok, I just had to throw that in there because it actually irritates the heck out of me when Rachel Ray says it) Extra Virgin Olive Oil, if you didn’t know
Salt to taste
Optional: Italian Sausages
To get this dinner done in under an hour, it’s just a matter of planning and timing. I didn’t realize I had omitted this valuable lesson in teaching my daughters how to cook. That is, timing your cooking times so that they all end up being cooked and ready at roughly the same time. They were cooking things one at a time in the order that they would need the ingredients and what they were finding out is a lot of waiting time in between while the first thing they cooked is getting cold. So bear with me if you’re an old hat at this. Part of my purpose of writing this blog is for it to serve as a guide for my daughters.
Ok, so we’re ready to cook. Fill a big pot with water and set it to boil. Make sure to salt it well. It adds flavor to your pasta. While the water is boiling, turn the oven on to 400 degrees and cook your Italian sausage if you have people in your house who feel all pitiful and deprived whenever they don’t see meat on their plate. I found that baking the sausages on high browned them more evenly and kept them more moist than cooking them stovetop.
When you’ve got those going, time to start chopping. Wash the greens well and chop them in about quarter inch slices. Aren’t they pretty? I think I can eat these raw in a salad!
Chop up all your garlic and herbs and start cooking. Don’t forget to set aside some of the parsley tops for topping your plates right before serving. Their freshness will add another taste dimension to your pasta dish. While your pasta is cooking (don’t forget, don’t cook your pasta more than 10 minutes), heat up the olive oil in another pot and add the red chili peppers, garlic, oregano and parsley. Let them cook for a couple of minutes until they start smelling wonderful.
Add the turnip greens and cook it just until it’s wilted. Then add your wheat pasta, season with salt, and you’re done!
You can serve the sausages on the side like so, for your meat eaters…