Last weekend, I got into a slight altercation with a woman at the farmers’ market over fridge space. She didn’t want to buy a 1/2-pound bag of salad because she said the fridge real estate was too precious. All I had were 1/2-pound bags, and my side of the altercation mostly consisted of a shrug and the suggestion to just go ahead and eat an extra big salad for lunch. (Sometimes in the last 15 minutes of the market I’m not quite my best self, and I apologize to anyone who’s caught me int that window.) But it’s August! This is the month when the vegetable drawer means nothing. There are vegetables on every shelf, in the weird space for butter, in the drawer marked “cheese.” I don’t think this woman would approve, but in my kitchen I just precariously balance everything on top of each other enough to get the door shut. Then I close it, and remind myself to brace for kale and beet greens to tumble on to me the next time I open the door.
It’s a good problem to have. But sometimes I find myself with so many greens in the fridge, I need to find a way to make good use of them all at once. And that’s where Pasta with all the Greens comes in.
This dish has become a nearly once-a-week affair this summer. I can empty the fridge in one go, make everyone happy, and actually consume a ridiculous amount of greens in one sitting. It’s based on your classic anchovy/ garlic/ butter brilliance, and comes together quickly enough for those late-evening-forgot-to-make-dinner moments. If you’re not an anchovy fan, try this anyway. But if you’re a vegetarian, substitute the anchovies with a bit of miso paste stirred in to the butter. I’ve never found a green that didn’t work perfectly here, and if you can use a mix, all the better.
Pasta With All The Greens
3 to 4 bunches hearty greens (kale, swiss chard, beet or turnip greens, kohlrabi greens…), torn into bite-sized pieces
1 pound dried or fresh spaghetti, linguini, or fettucini
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup breadcrumbs (the coarser the better, so this is a great moment for homemade)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
7 olive oil-packed anchovies, finely chopped
Optional: pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
freshly ground pepper
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the greens, bring the water back to a boil, and cook, stirring often, until the greens are tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Use tongs or a spider to transfer the greens from the water to a bowl, keeping the water in the pot. Set the greens aside, and make sure your water is boiling again.
2. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until tender.
3. While the pasta cooks, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and let them them toast, stirring often, until they turn golden and soak up the butter, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more, stirring often to prevent the breadcrumbs from burning. Transfer the breadcrumb mixture to a small bowl and return the skillet to medium heat.
4. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the skillet along with the olive oil. When the butter melts, add the anchovies and cook, stirring often, for about a minute. Add the red pepper flakes, if using, and remove the pot from heat.
5 Scoop a 1/2 cup of cooking water out of the pasta pot. Then drain the pasta and transfer it to a large serving bowl. Pile the greens on top of the pasta. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the greens–then add the reserved pasta water, tossing a bit to melt the cheese. Then sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the whole bowl, and top with freshly ground pepper.