Thursday, April 9, 2009

Lou's Most Excellent Greens & Pasta

I love pasta and I think I’ve said that multiple times. But “pasta” is not a vegetable and you gotta eat your veggies.

Escarole, fortunately, is a vegetable. In fact, it’s a pretty rough vegetable in that this stuff will clean. you. out. And done right – famous last words – it’s pretty damned tasty.

done-right (dŭn rīt) v. 1. Cooking something otherwise healthy with ingredients that typically are artery clogging. adj. 2. Any food product not worth eating if described as such.

Here is a pretty good side dish that will give you a good dose of veggies and satisfaction of a nice, starchy thing-you-wanna-eat. If “done right” and you can keep the calories and fat down on this so you don’t have to feel so guilty about eating it.

As described below you prepare the pasta and escarole at the same time. This requires a fair amount of stove power and coordination. If you’re not into that (or only have one six quart pot), prepare the escarole first and then the pasta.

½ pound pasta, preferably linguini
1 large head of escarole
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ sweet onion, sliced very thin
¼ cup dry white wine
Extra virgin olive oil
Red pepper flakes

Bring two-six quart pots of cold water, four quarts in each, to a boil simultaneously.

Cut the bottom ¼ of the escarole off, separate all the leaves and give them a quick rinse with cold water in a colander.

Add 1 TBS of salt to each pot. Add the pasta to one; cook per directions on the box MINUS 1 minute. At the same time add the escarole to the other (you may have to do this in three bunches as it won’t all fit at once).

Cook (blanch) the escarole for about 90 seconds then pour into the colander and run cold water over it for about one minute to cool it. Carefully squeeze out excess water while being careful not to crush the escarole.

Heat 3 TBS of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 2 minutes…then the garlic and cook for 30 seconds…then add the escarole and wine. Simmer until wine cooks off, about 3 minutes. By this time…

…the pasta should be done. Drain well in the colander and transfer to the pan with the escarole. Turn heat up to medium high. Once the ingredients start to sizzle cook for two more minutes, continually tossing. Season with black pepper, red pepper flakes and salt as desired.

I recently served this as a bed for sable fish that was cooked with some white wine and shitake mushrooms: it was pretty tasty.

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