June 30, 2014

Penne Pasta with Mixed Greens {gluten-free}

Penne pasta with mixed greens–and sun-dried tomatoes and toasted walnuts–this healthy and vibrant one-dish meal comes together in a jiffy.

Penne Pasta with Mixed Greens

Robbie knows leafy greens inspire my cooking. Any kind of greens. He understands how I think about food, and how a bunch of kale, chard or collards can be the makings, the catalyst for dinner.

To stir my imagination, I often pull a cookbook down from my collection. Or I look on my Pinterest boards, to check out the recipes I “Pinned” to make later. *

It goes like this. I find a recipe I like but it calls for ingredients we don’t have on hand. By then it’s already 6:30 or 7pm and dinner needs to get going before we both collapse with hunger. That’s when I face reality and save those new recipes for another day. Last minute Letty in action.

I need to whip up something fast. There’s always some sort of noodle in the cupboard–put the water on to boil and get going. This penne pasta with mixed greens is a perfect example of late hour brilliance.

Penne Pasta with Mixed Greens

We had greens from our Ranui CSA box, triple-washed and ready to use. The mix—of young rainbow chard, curly kale and pungent mustard greens–goes very nicely with pasta. I chose the gluten-free brown rice pasta, sun-dried tomatoes and walnuts waiting in the pantry. Whew–good thing there was one onion left.

I had thought to make this penne with greens both gluten-free and vegan. Brown rice pasta keeps it gluten-free. As for the vegan plan, that went by the wayside. Just before the skillet went on the table, I stirred in a smidgen of goat cheese. I love how soft goat cheese gently coats the pasta and greens. Like my tortellini with greens, recipe here.

Of course the cheese is optional and this pasta is dang delicious without it. Wheat penne is perfectly fine if that’s what you have and gluten is not a problem.

Penne Pasta with Mixed Greens

Do you know about Aleppo pepper? It could be your new favorite pantry essential. Aleppo pepper, a common spice in the Middle East, is milder than red chile flakes, with fruity undertones that shine in this pasta and greens combo. Sprinkle on Aleppo for sparkle and flavor. I order Aleppo pepper from World Spice Merchants in Seattle. You can also buy Aleppo via my Amazon link here.

I am grateful whenever my pantry helps me create meals. What’s the inspiration in your cupboards?

* Note:
Pinterest is a great online resource, not only for recipes, but also for other interests, like travel, fashion, or quotes. It’s a free website of photos with links—visual bookmarks of ideas. You have to sign up (join) Pinterest. If you want to join Pinterest, but don’t have or want a Facebook account, write me in the comment section and I will “invite” you to join Pinterest using just your email address.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase a product via my link, it doesn’t cost you anything and I earn a tiny commission, which helps defray the costs of Letty’s Kitchen blog. Thank you for supporting me.

Penne Pasta with Mixed Greens {gluten-free}

Yield: Makes about 6 large servings.

Penne Pasta with Mixed Greens {gluten-free}

This colorful and healthful pasta dish with mixed greens, sun-dried tomatoes and toasted walnuts comes together in a jiffy. Goat cheese is optional addition. Make with gluten-free pasta or wheat pasta.

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch mixed greens, about 1 pound (see note)
  • 8 ounces brown rice penne pasta (see note)
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sherry wine or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces soft goat cheese, broken into chunks, optional
  • ¼ teaspoon Real Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (see note)

Instructions

  1. Wash the greens. Do not dry—the water left on the greens helps them to wilt.
  2. Trim and discard the tougher ribs of the kale. (The chard and mustard green ribs are tender enough that you can chop them along with the leaves.)
  3. Chop the greens in 1 to 1 ½-inch pieces.
  4. Dice the onion into ½-inch pieces.
  5. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta until it is tender. (see note)
  6. When the pasta is done, drain and toss with the sun-dried tomatoes and their residual oil. Add a teaspoon of olive oil if needed to keep the pasta from sticking together.
  7. Heat a skillet over medium-high flame. Add the olive oil and the chopped onion.
  8. Cook and stir about 5 minutes, until the onions begin to turn translucent. Stir in the garlic.
  9. Reduce the heat to medium flame. Add the chopped greens and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens wilt and shrink, another 5 minutes.
  10. Mix the pasta and tomatoes into the greens. Sprinkle in the vinegar and heat through.
  11. Add the walnuts and goat cheese, if using, stirring until the cheese disappears into the pasta.
  12. Add the Aleppo pepper, and salt to taste.
  13. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • I used a mixture of kale, chard and mustard greens.
  • I bought the brown rice penne pasta at Trader Joe’s. This is by far the best gluten-free pasta I know. It holds up perfectly when cooked, unlike some gluten-free pasta. In fact, this penne benefits from extra cooking time. The package says boil 7 to 10 minutes—I boiled this pasta until it had a soft texture, about 14 minutes. (My kitchen is 7000 feet above sea level, test in 10 minutes if at sea level.)
  • I recommend Aleppo pepper for subtle heat and vibrant flavor. If you don’t have any (yet), substitute 1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes.

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2 comments

  • Throw together meals are often the best. Love that you highlight the greens and kept things simple. My kind of dinner for sure! Reply · 4 weeks ago

    • Letty

      Thanks Kelley. Reply · 4 weeks ago

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