Author Notes: This is a quick (almost) pantry meal, that incorporates the gorgeous greens from radishes, baby turnips, beets, or whatever fairly tender greens you may have in your fridge or garden. It's essentially a version of Cacio e Pepe with a nice little nutritional boost. I like how the peppery greens complement the black pepper in the pasta. It's a great way to “rescue” some food that may otherwise end up in the compost pile or trash. It's also perfect as a mid-week meal because it can be done in about 30 minutes. - hardlikearmour
- 1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
- kosher salt
- 2 to 3 bunches radish or baby turnip greens, or really whatever tender greens you've got
- 2 ounces Pecorino Romano (plus additional for serving)
- 2 ounces Grana Padano (or substitute Parmesan)
- 2 to 3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper (plus additional for serving)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 to 3 generous handfuls baby arugula or baby spinach, rinsed if needed
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, and while the pasta is cooking the prep for the rest of the dish can be done.
- Clean the radish or other greens. If there are any tough stems cut them away. Very roughly chop the greens, then place them in a large strainer. Set the strainer in the sink in preparation for draining the pasta.
- Grate both cheeses on the fine holes of a box grater. Grind 3 teaspoons of black pepper, semi-coarse in texture. Set aside.
- Add a palmful of kosher salt and the spaghetti noodles to the boiling water. Cook as directed on the package, checking for doneness 4 minutes early. You want the noodles to be slightly firmer than “al dente.” When done ladle out 1 ½ cups of the pasta water into a glass measure. (I set my glass measure in the strainer so I don't forget this critical step.) Drain the noodles through the prepared strainer.
- Replace the pot on the burner over medium-high, and once any residual water has evaporated add the olive oil. Give the noodles and greens a good shake, then transfer them back into the pot. (The greens will likely stick in the strainer, just use a fork or spoon to scrape them into the pot.) Add about ½ cup of the reserved pasta water to the pot. Stir the pasta and greens continuously for 3 to 4 minutes, with a wooden spoon to scrape up any sticky bits and break up large clumps of greens. Add more pasta water as needed to prevent excessive sticking. The noodles will start to break up a bit when they are ready. At this point stir in the arugula or spinach, just until it's wilted.
- Remove from heat and add the cheeses, butter, and 2 teaspoons black pepper. Stir to combine thoroughly, adding pasta water as needed to loosen the mixture. Taste and add more black pepper if desired.
- Divide amongst plates. Garnish each serving with more Pecorino and a few grinds of black pepper. Serve immediately.