Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Penne with Greens, Olives, and Feta

I am so confused. It's sunny and beautiful outside, yet it's still so chilly! I think this pasta dish reflects that gap between winter and spring that I feel like we're in right now, at least in the Pacific Northwest. It has the filling comfort of a winter meal but the spring greens and lemon keep it light and fresh.

Penne with Greens, Olives, and Feta
adapted from Bon Appetit - April 2008
serves 6

Notes: I made a few changes to this recipe. I added lemon juice, instead of just lemon peel, because I wanted extra lemon flavor. I also chose to toss the whole pot of pasta with the mixture of parsley, lemon, and garlic instead of topping each serving with it at the end. I used a mixture of arugula raab and kale raab for the greens.

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large bunch greens (such as spinach, mustard greens, kale, broccoli rabe, arugula/kale raab), thick stems removed, spinach left whole, other greens cut into 1-inch strips (you want about 10 cups packed)
16 ounces penne
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup coarsely chopped Kalamata olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 3 ounces)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the greens and cook until bright green and tender, 1-6 minutes depending on what type of greens you are using (spinach will take about 1 minute, raabs will be 2-3 minutes, the thicker greens like kale will be closer to 5 or 6 minutes). Use a skimmer or slotted spoon to transfer the greens to a colander to drain. Set aside.

Bring the water back up to a boil and add the penne. Cook until al dente, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, combine the parsley, lemon peel, lemon juice, and garlic in a small bowl and set aside.

Drain pasta, reserving about 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Return the pasta to the pot. Add the greens and the oil and toss to combine. Stir in the olives, feta, and a little of the cooking liquid - 1/4 cup at a time - until moistened. You probably won't need the full 3/4 cup you reserved. Add the parsley mixture and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

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