Greens are probably my favorite vegetable. They are like little chameleon leaves that take on the flavors of whatever they are cooked with and that versatility makes them a staple in my refrigerator. I am always on the hunt for a new, under the radar green that I can slip into any and every dish in my kitchen. I also especially like anything that has been simmered with lots of garlic and covered in parmesan cheese and that's exactly that luxurious treatment that this broccoli rabe gets here. You can substitute any greens that you have on hand, but hearty leaves will hold up to the broth better than softer ones.
Growing up in an Italian family, we had some very regular staples in our weekly meal rotations. My mom made two different soups two-pot soups that served as my inspiration for this recipe. These types of soups (or brothy pasta dishes) require few ingredients and take very little time to put together- perfect for a last-minute weeknight dinner.
You start by cooking your pasta in a heavily salted pot of boiling water. You can use any short pasta that you want, I chose ditalini for this recipe because I think they are super cute and I had half of a box already in my pantry. While your pasta is cooking, you sauté a lot of garlic and greens in some butter and olive oil with mushrooms and a little red pepper until your garlic is fragrant and your greens are wilty. At this point, chicken broth is added and the simmering continues. *Note: If you have a few parmesan rinds in your refrigerator begging to be used, you can toss one or two into the broth as it simmers. It will not disappoint and everyone will thank you.*
This is the most important part of cooking any pasta, any time. SAVE YOUR PASTA WATER. Do not pour it all down the drain! You don't have to save it all, I usually reserve about a cup because you never know when you are going to need it. After you drain your pasta, add it to your greens and broth and stir until everything is coated. If it seems like you need a little more liquid, add some of your pasta water until you get the consistency that you want. Salt and pepper and serve with some grated parmesan cheese...maybe will some crusty bread and some white wine and you are in business.
Brothy Pasta with Greens
Yield: Approximately 5 servings
8 oz ditalini pasta, cooked
2 tablespoons butter
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 cups broccoli rabe, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups broth (you can use chicken or vegetable)
1/2 cup pasta water (reserved from cooking)
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated parmesan for serving .
In a large skillet, heat butter and olive oil. Add garlic, mushrooms, and crushed red pepper and sauté for 2-3 minutes until garlic is fragrant. Add chopped broccoli rabe and let cook for another 2-3 minutes until greens are starting to wilt.
Add broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 4-5 minutes and then add pasta. Add extra pasta water if more liquid is needed. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve topped with lots of parmesan cheese.