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Penne Pasta with Mixed Greens {gluten-free}

Penne pasta with mixed greens, sun-dried tomatoes, and toasted walnuts–this pasta comes together in a jiffy. With a few pantry ingredients and a bunch or clamshell of leafy greens you’ve got the makings of a healthy vibrant one-dish meal.

Penne Pasta with Mixed Greens on white plates with southwestern design napkins.

Granted, leafy greens aren’t technically a pantry ingredient. Like many, out of respect for fellow humans, we’re making a point to stay home these days, doing our part to lessen coronavirus-19 spread. Shopping smart, just once a week, a variety of fresh green vegetables go in the cart.

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Vitamin-rich greens can be the catalyst for many an easy quick dinner. Any green–mixed greens, kale, chard, collards, cabbage–when you have a variety of greens in the fridge you’re ahead of the dinner game. I posted this recipe a few years back and in light of what’s going on in the world right now, I’m bringing it forward. My hope is that pasta in your pantry and leafy greens in your fridge become dinner inspiration.

Last trip to the store, I bought romaine lettuce, kale, chard, cilantro, and a clamshell of spinach, baby arugula, and mixed greens, each. Oh, and red and green cabbage, a bunch of beets, and a bag of carrots. We’re down to our last meal of the lettuce, spinach and arugula. The cabbage, beets, and carrots– they’ll hold up into this coming week. Look below to find lots of  tips on keeping all your greens fresh.

Greens, pasta, dried tomatoes and walnuts, the ingredients for Penne Pasta with Mixed Greens

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What’s needed to make penne pasta with mixed greens?

  • I used a mix of rainbow chard, curly kale and pungent mustard greens. Needless to say, other leafy greens work well in this recipe too.
  • There’s always some sort of noodle in the cupboard, right? Here, I used penne-shaped gluten-free brown rice pasta, though another pasta shape, gluten-free or wheat, the pasta you already have in your pantry, would be a fine choice. Lately I’m liking the high-protein chickpea and lentil pastas that are relatively new on the market.
  • Most always you’ll find onions at our house. A jar of sun-dried tomatoes and a decent handful of walnuts are both good pantry items–you never know when you might want to make pasta like this one with leafy greens.
  • A splash of vinegar heightens the flavor of cooked greens. Sample a bite before and after you add the vinegar–I promise you’ll taste the difference.
  • Aleppo pepper. A common spice in Middle East cuisine, Aleppo pepper is milder than red chile flakes, with fruity undertones that shine in this pasta and greens combo. Sprinkle Aleppo on vegetables and avocado for sparkle and flavor–it could be your new favorite pantry essential. I order Aleppo pepper from World Spice Merchants in Seattle. You can also buy Aleppo via my Amazon link here.

Possible add-ins to this one-pot pasta:

  • A cup of white beans gives this pasta a protein boost. (Home-cooked or canned, drained.) 
  • If you eat cheese, stir in a smidgen of goat cheese just before the pasta hits the dinner table. You’ll love how the soft goat cheese gently coats the pasta and greens. Like in my tortellini with greens recipe.
  • You might also want to make this spaghetti with beet greens and basil pesto.

How to keep produce as fresh as possible:

  • When you buy clamshell-packed greens, check the dates and choose the furthest date out.
  • When you get home from the store, don’t just throw them in the crisper–spend 20 minutes preserving and prepping.
  • Separate the leaves and wash romaine lettuce. Spin in lettuce spinner, then wrap in a clean tea towel. Tuck that inside the plastic bag you put it in at the store and seal with a twist tie.
  • Cut the bottom 1/2 inch from kale, chard, beet greens, collard greens etc. (Don’t wash until ready to use.) Stand in a jar with an inch of water. Cover the jar with the plastic bag from the store and place the jar upright in your refrigerator on a shelf or on the door. Greens kept this way will last about a week.
  • Trim the bottom ¼ inch from the bunch of cilantro or parsley. Check for leaves that are already yellow—discard them. Stand in a smaller jar in an inch of water. Cover the jar with a plastic bag like you did with the leafy greens.
  • Cut the stems and leaves from radishes. If the leaves are fresh, chop and add to pasta like any other green. Keep the radishes in a bowl of water.
  • Same with beets. Choose beets with good looking greens, cut them off and stand them in a jar of water like other leafy greens.

Menu ideas for beets and cabbage:

  • Instant Pot red velvet beet soup always blows them away with gorgeous red color and amazing flavor.
  • Stretch daily salads with thinly sliced cabbage. 10 salad making tips and recipe for mellow miso dressing.
  • Last week we had tacos with pinto beans, cabbage slaw, and pickled red onions. Thanks for the inspiration Naturally Ella.

Penne Pasta with Leafy greens on white plate horizontal shot

A well-stocked pantry and home-cooked meals can provide a sense of safety and comfort in these times of uncertainty. Take advantage of your stay-at-home time to create healthy delicious meals around what’s in your pantry and the greens prepped and waiting in your fridge. Take care of each other.

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Nutrition Facts
Penne Pasta with Mixed Greens {gluten-free}
Amount Per Serving
Calories 335 Calories from Fat 171
% Daily Value*
Fat 19g29%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Sodium 152mg7%
Potassium 293mg8%
Carbohydrates 37g12%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 7g14%
Vitamin A 706IU14%
Vitamin C 14mg17%
Calcium 34mg3%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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 · 30 June, 2014

    • Letty

      Thanks Kelley. Reply · 30 June, 2014

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