One-Pot Wonders

Waste Not Pasta

May 18, 2012
5 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Serves 4
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 for a mid-week meal because it can be done in about 30 minutes. —hardlikearmour

What You'll Need
  • 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)
  • 1/4 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 greens (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. If you haven't already done so, 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 1/2 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 heat, 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 1/2 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Teresa Pavia Medina
    Teresa Pavia Medina
  • Midge
  • EmilyC
  • inpatskitchen
  • Fairmount_market
I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.

12 Reviews

Teresa P. May 30, 2016
I'm so excited to make this on the weekend! As far as wine goes, what do you suggest?
hardlikearmour May 31, 2016
Wine pairings are not my strong suit, but I don't think you'd go wrong with a Savignon Blanc or a fruity Rosé.
Midge September 12, 2012
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!
hardlikearmour September 12, 2012
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.
EmilyC May 24, 2012
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.
hardlikearmour May 25, 2012
Thank you, EC! It's about as fast as getting take out. I try not to waste food, some days more successfully than others.
inpatskitchen May 24, 2012
I just love greens, pasta and cheese...I've been looking at your recipe all week and had to comment...thanks for sharing!
hardlikearmour May 24, 2012
Thank you, ipk! It's a simple and pretty delicious combination!
Fairmount_market May 23, 2012
Great idea!
hardlikearmour May 23, 2012
Thanks! It was a combination of needing a quick & easy meal, and having some really nice greens.
boulangere May 18, 2012
Love the title, love the idea!
hardlikearmour May 18, 2012
Thanks, B! I had the lovely greens left from a radish/turnip salad I made, and just couldn't bear tossing them.