The greens from Farmer Kev are starting to slow down a teensy bit, but I still have bags of Kale and Swiss chard in my refrigerator. (I love those greens. What good keepers they are!)
This week’s pasta and greens recipe is a dish I could eat every week. It has all the elements I’m crazy about—pasta, greens, garlic, nuts, and bread cut in little cubes. Oh, and olive and lemon oil. It doesn’t get much more Mediterranean than that, does it?
As if that weren’t enough, this recipe goes together quickly, and it tastes just as good the next day as room-temperature leftovers. If you add a glass of wine, some garlic bread, and head to your deck or patio. then you can pretend you’re somewhere in the Mediterranean where the sun is shining, and the olives are ripening.
An important note about the croutons: Please, please, please don’t use store-bought croutons for this recipe. Make your own. It doesn’t take long at all, and bread cubes fried crisp in olive oil are, in a word, delectable. Obviously the better the bread, the better the homemade croutons, but even standard sliced bread will be a huge improvement over those hard, overspiced things that come in a box.
Pasta with Greens, Roasted Almonds, and Homemade Croutons
- 8 cups of loosely packed greens—kale, spinach, Swiss chard, even a touch of arugula—coarsely chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt (or to taste)
- Pinch of red pepper
- 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup of toasted sliced almonds
- 2 slices of bread, cut in cubes
- Olive oil for toasting cubes, a tablespoon or more
- 9 ounces of penne or pasta of your choice
- Parmesan, Romano, or Asagio cheese for grating on top
- Cooked chicken or sausage, optional
- In a large dry skillet over medium heat, roast the almonds, flipping and shaking them frequently so that they cook evenly. When they are browned—but not burnt—set aside in a plate or bowl.
- Carefully wipe the skillet with a paper towel, add a tablespoon of olive oil, and return to medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the cubed bread. (More oil might need to be added if the pan becomes too dry.) With a fork, flip the cubes so that they brown on all sides. When they are done, drain on a large plate covered with a paper towel and set aside.
- In a large pot of salted water, cook the penne according to directions. Save a cup of the pasta water.
- Meanwhile, using the same skillet that was used for the almonds and the bread cubes, add a tablespoon of oil and heat over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and let it sizzle for 30 seconds or so until it barely begins to turn brown. Add the chopped greens, the salt, the pinch of red pepper, and a few squeezes from the half lemon.
- Sauté until the greens are wilted, a few minutes or so. Taste and add more salt, red pepper, and lemon juice, if desired.
- Toss the greens with the pasta and enough of the pasta water to make a nice saucy mixture. (I used about 1/2 cup, but more or less can be used, according to taste.)
- Stir in the toasted almonds.
- Place the mixture into a large bowl. Add the toasted croutons and grate some cheese over the whole thing.
- Makes 4 or 6 servings, depending on appetite.