Apologies about being gone so long! We always have so much going on around the holidays that I can barely keep my head on straight, and am often too busy to cook much of anything besides the odd meal of soup and grilled cheese. But I'm back at it and have been making an renewed effort to expand my kitchen horizons. I've been trying to work even more vegetarian meals into our weekly menus, although truthfully I've got a meat stockpile that I really should finish working my way through. But for the first week in the new year I wanted to prepare all meatless dinners to try and give 2010 a fresh and healthy feel from the get-go. This recipe is one that I tore out of the April 2008 issue of Bon Appetit, and then promptly stuck in the big stack of recipes to try and forgot about. I decided it was finally time to give it a try. This recipe could have been better, but all the fault lies with me I think. I'd never cooked with kale before, so I chose it as the greens for this recipe. My first mistake was I didn't buy enough kale, so the penne to greens ratio was pretty off. My second mistake was I had no idea how long to cook the greens for. All I had read was that kale was a longer cooking green, so I used the maximum time estimate in the recipe for it, and I think I probably should have taken them out sooner. So, keeping those two mistakes in mind, this recipe was pretty good. In fact, I thought it was better when I had leftovers for lunch the next day. I don't know if my difficulties with the recipe flavored (no pun intended) my opinion of it when we had it for dinner, but it definitely improved in my estimation over lunch. I didn't have the photograph of the meal with the recipe I tore out, so I'm sharing Bon Appetit's photo below to help anyone who wants to try this recipe get a better idea for what the end result should hopefully be.
Penne with Greens, Olives and Feta
Recipe from Bon Appetit; Serves 4 to 6
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large bunch greens (such as spinach, mustard greens, kale, or broccoli rabe; about 1 pound), thick stems removed, spinach left whole, other greens cut into 1-inch strips (about 10 cups packed)
12 ounces penne
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 3 ounces)
- Mix parsley, lemon peel and garlic in small bowl; set aside.
- Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add greens and cook just until tender, 1 to 6 minutes, depending on type of greens. Using skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer greens to colander to drain. Return water to boil. Add pasta and cook just until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup pasta cooking liquid.
- Return pasta to pot; add greens and 3 tablespoons oil and toss. Stir in olives, feta, and enough reserved pasta cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls to moisten. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Sprinkle with parsley mixture and serve.
Photo by Coral von Zumwalt for Bon Appetit