Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I'm a pretty good cook, but planning out meals in advance is not my strong suit.  My real talent, I think, is in throwing a meal together out of odds and ends left over in the fridge and pantry.  It's where I got my start with cooking, in college---grocery shopping once a week, buying whatever produce was on sale plus some staples like pasta and legumes, and not wanting to waste anything---but unfortunately, with Jeff cooking most nights, I don't get to exercise this skill very often.  But tonight he's at work, and I've been left to my own devices, and I think what I've thrown together is actually worthy of a recipe write-up.  I'm awful at writing recipes, since I don't like to use them and find it physically impossible to make myself measure out quantities when cooking, so just know that everything is approximate and to taste.

This pasta is a nice mix of textures and flavors---creamy from the cheese, bitter from the greens, and a bit of tang and brightness from the lemon---and that's what you'll want to capture.  The exact ingredients aren't super important, and I've tried to suggest some obvious substitutions.

Pasta with Greens and Beans

1/2 lb. short pasta, like medium shells or orecchiette
1/3 cup cream cheese (or mascarpone, if you have it)
a few tbsp. of olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 smallish (or 1 large) bunch of Chinese broccoli (or broccoli rabe or swiss chard, or whatever green really)
1 can cannellini beans
1 lemon
freshly ground sea salt and pepper, to taste

Prepare pasta as usual.  In the meantime, heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium/medium high heat, and in the minced garlic and almost immediately add the Chinese broccoli, leaves sliced into like 1/2 inch pieces and stems chopped finely, so that the garlic doesn't burn.  Cook until tender, then add the beans and let them warm through.  When the pasta is done, drain it and pour it in a large serving bowl, quickly add the cream cheese and stir to coat well.  Once the cheese is distributed, add the greens and beans and stir to coat.  Finish with salt and pepper to taste and a squeeze of lemon juice.

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