Vegetables with Pasta
So, as I mentioned yesterday, I had a cooler full of fresh, delicious CSA veggies to work with for dinner tonight. I opted for pasta, tangled with ribbons of collards, fennel, and spring onions, as well as bites of zucchini (the zucchini was not from my veggie share – it was just chilling in the fridge, biding its time, waiting for a veggie dish needing some moisture and the ability to absorb the flavor of garlic, yeah). But really, any tasty combination of vegetables would work – choose what you like. I had intended ziti or penne – the thickness stands up nicely to a coarse “sauce” – but when I opened the cupboard, alas, the thickest, heartiest shape I could find was linguine, so linguine it was.
I seared the veggies on the grill, chapa-style (yes, again – what can I say, not heating up my kitchen is a nice thing in the summer). Wait, I should back up – I started by searing two slices of bacon, chopped. When it was crisp, I removed to a large bowl and then added the ribbons of collard greens and zucchini to the pan (and drippings). Collards are tougher than, say, spinach or chard, so need a longer cooking time and some moisture (zucchini adds quite a bit of moisture, but I added a few drizzles of water as well) to achieve truly tender. Make sure to add a sprinkle of salt as you stir. When both achieved melty and lightly charred, I added a clove of minced garlic, stirred it around a bit, and then transferred the whole pan to the bowl with the bacon (toss, toss).
I then added a couple of teaspoons of olive oil to the hot pan, then stirred in the fennel and onions (and a sprinkle of salt) and saute-seared them until also lightly charred. I scraped them into the bowl with the bacon, collards, and zucchini, added a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a crumble of Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste, and it was time to toss the vegetables with pasta.
Here’s how to finish – cook pasta (1/2 lb. to serve 3-4) according to package directions until al dente. While the pasta cooks, in a small skillet, saute one clove of minced garlic and 1/2 tsp. of red pepper flakes in 1-2 Tbsp. of olive oil, until garlic is just barely colored. Remove from heat. Just before draining the pasta, reserve 1/4 c. of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta, return to the warm pot, and toss with the garlic/oil, reserved water, and salt and pepper to taste until “creamy” (the starch in the cooking water creates a bit of a “sauce”). Toss in the vegetables and an additional grating of cheese to taste. A shower of freshly minced herbs would be nice. I use probably 2/3 veg to 1/3 pasta – a perfect opportunity to enjoy a small taste of pasta (no more than a couple of ounces) with lots of delicious vegetables (go whole-wheat pasta if your family won’t revolt – mine, sadly, would/has).