Waste Not Pasta

By • May 18, 2012 • 12 Comments


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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

Serves 4

  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Grate both cheeses on the fine holes of a box grater. Grind 3 teaspoons of black pepper, semi-coarse in texture. Set aside.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Divide amongst plates. Garnish each serving with more Pecorino and a few grinds of black pepper. Serve immediately.

Comments (12) Questions (0)

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over 1 year ago Midge

I love this too. I'm a big fan of using up random greens in pasta dishes, with varying levels of success. Next time I'll use your much more precise method. I especially appreciate the measuring cup in the strainer trick!

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over 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you, Midge. The blanching of the slightly tougher radish and/or turnip greens helps them to be cooked well when the pasta is done. The exceedingly tender baby arugula or spinach doesn't need the extra help. This has definitely become one of my go-to quick meals, often with a shaved radish salad alongside.

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almost 2 years ago EmilyC

Love this! This is the type of dish that saves you from crappy take-out. I'm always trying to be better about not wasting food -- your recipe is a great reminder of how delicious simple ingredients can be.

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almost 2 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you, EC! It's about as fast as getting take out. I try not to waste food, some days more successfully than others.

3-bizcard

almost 2 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Simple, healthful, quick and delicious. A great dish!

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almost 2 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, s! The whole wheat pasta and greens do make it a bit healthy!

Dscn3274

almost 2 years ago inpatskitchen

I just love greens, pasta and cheese...I've been looking at your recipe all week and had to comment...thanks for sharing!

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almost 2 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you, ipk! It's a simple and pretty delicious combination!

Kg_in_evanston_cropped

almost 2 years ago Fairmount_market

Great idea!

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almost 2 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks! It was a combination of needing a quick & easy meal, and having some really nice greens.

Dscn2212

almost 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Love the title, love the idea!

Gator_cake

almost 2 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, B! I had the lovely greens left from a radish/turnip salad I made, and just couldn't bear tossing them.