Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Penne with Senposai and Feta

I know that shopping at a farmstand or belonging to a CSA can seem like the greens channel (all greens, all the time), but I bet you haven't tried senposai before.  I think it's the tastiest, easiest green to cook; it's tender and flavorful, without bitterness, and only requires a few minutes' blanching before it's ready to eat.  A good, salty, briny feta is what you want for this dish; I recommend one made from goats' or sheep's milk.  Briny kalamata olives, if you're an olive fan, are excellent too.

from Jake & Emma's kitchen

serves 4; 6 as a side dish

1 lb penne or other short, chunky pasta
2 bunches senposai (or chard, kale, or other green of your choice -- about 1.5 lbs)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot or small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch red pepper flakes
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or basil
salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring two pots of water to a boil.  Add a generous pinch of salt to each.  In one, cook pasta until done; drain.  Do remaining preparations while pasta is cooking.

Remove stems and center ribs from senposai leaves.  Coarsely chop leaves, and blanch in the second large pot of boiling, salted water for 5 minutes.  Leaves should be completely wilted but still bright green.  Remove greens from boiling water with a slotted spoon or tongs, and plunge into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.  When greens are cool, remove them from the cold water by the handful, squeezing out the excess water.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Add onion or shallot and saute until translucent.  Add garlic and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and cook about 1 minute longer, stirring frequently.  Add greens to skillet, breaking up squeezed handfuls.  Saute, stirring often, until water evaporates and onions are just beginning to brown (maybe another 5 minutes).

Place cooked pasta with senposai mixture in a large bowl.  Add olives, feta, and fresh herbs, and toss well.  Season to taste with freshly ground pepper (and salt, if needed -- but the olives and feta are pretty salty!)  Serve warm, though cold leftovers the next day are great too.

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