Monday, June 2, 2014

Greens and Pasta--A Fast Concept Recipe

Greens and Pasta--A Fast Concept Recipe

A concept recipe for quickly getting a meal on the table that your family will eat and using the kale, spinach, bok choy, mustard greens, beet greens, turnip greens or Swiss chard from your farm share.

Cheese tortellini with beet greens and bacon.

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Would you like to walk in the door after picking up the CSA box and, within a half hour of arrival sit down to eat a tasty meal the whole family will enjoy?  If I haven't yet mentioned it in on this blog [Ha!  As if!], CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, a farm share program where you sign up and pay your farmer before the growing season starts in return for receiving a weekly share of the produce during the growing season.  It benefits you because you've met and shaken hands with the people who grow your food, and it benefits your farmers because they are paid in advance--to buy seeds or equipment necessary for the upcoming season (link to a photo of my farmers doing exactly that)--as well as lessening the risk that is independent, diversified, small farming today. Use the Local Harvest tool on the blog to find a CSA near you.
The only drawback to being a CSA member, which of course is why I started this blog, is having a ripe vegetable in your kitchen that you don't have a clue what to do with, knowing that loads more vegetables are coming within a week, and knowing if you don't figure something out--quick!--your money and your farmer's labor are going out in the compost, down the garbage disposal, or out to a landfill. That'd be a shame.
 Since I hate to waste food, and I like to laze about encourage my kids to get busy in the kitchen, this post will be another segment of Cooking with Teens as well as a concept recipe.  I first learned of the term "concept recipe" from my blogging mentor Alanna, and it works here.

a collage of different greens and pasta dishes that can be made from this concept recipe.
Not a Clickable Collage--just a collection of times we've executed this concept.

You'll need pasta--dried or fresh, thin noodles, shaped noodles, filled noodles all work in this
You'll need a sauce (prepared or put up pesto or alfredo or marinara or vodka sauce)
You'll need greens (beet, chard, kale, spinach, tender collard, mustard or turnip greens)
If you like, you could add a protein (bacon, breakfast sausage, ham, meatballs, paneer, tofu)

A recipe for Red Russian Kale with beet greens and rotini pasta.

Since my son graciously (?) agreed to cook for us, I've got some gifs of the process and I'll post the recipe afterwards.

For more recipes using greens, please see my Cooking Greens Recipe Collection, my Kale Recipes Collection, my Spinach Recipes Collection, or my Swiss Chard Recipes Collection. These collections are part of the Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient, a resource for folks like me eating from the farm share, the farmer's market, the garden, the neighbor's garden, and great deals on ugly produce at the grocery store.

I'm sharing more recipes on my Pinterest boards, follow me there. If you like a good peek behind the scenes like I do, follow me on Instagram. Need a good read? I'm sharing articles of interest on my Facebook page, follow me there. Want to know How to Use This Blog?

how to prep swiss chard
stripping the leaves from the stems
how to prepare swiss chard
chopping the stems
how to slice swiss chard
slicing the leaves 
Preparing ingredients for the greens and pasta dish.
using good technique to chop the pepperoni

Cooking the greens to add to the pasta dish.

Cooking greens and pasta dish at the stove.

Greens and Pasta (serves 4)


  • ½ pound dry pasta (or 4 servings fresh pasta)
  • 1 bunch greens (chop and use the chard or beet stems, discard the mustard, turnip, collard or kale stems--especially if large and woody--and slice the leaves as shown above)
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ to 2 cups chopped cooked or uncooked* meat, or cubes of paneer or tofu, optional
  • Sauce (½ cup pesto + pasta water to thin, or 1 to 2 cups alfredo/marinara/tomato vodka--your choice)


  1. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat, and get a large pot of salted water boiling for the pasta.
  2. When the water is ready, prepare pasta according to package directions. 
  3. In the skillet, heat the oil to shimmering then sauté the stems and onions until softened (*if using, add the uncooked meat in now so it can cook as well), about 5 to 8 minutes.  
  4. Add the leaves and stir until wilted, another 3 minutes or so. If using cooked meat or tofu cubes, add to the skillet once the leaves are wilted.  
  5. Stir pasta sauce into mixture.  
  6. When the pasta is cooked, add it to the skillet and toss with the sauce.  
  7. Serve with additional cheese on top.

A variety of ingredients used to make Fast Greens and Pasta dishes.
Sample Spring CSA box--see how full of GREENs?--with a couple of ingredient shots
This post is shared on Simple Supper Tuesday, Week In ReviewWhat's Cookin' WednesdayFrom The Farm Blog HopClever Chicks Blog HopTasty Tuesdays


  1. I love a concept recipe. If I ever get my act together and do my leftover post, it's filled with concept recipes.

    I love seeing the first CSA box of Spring. Ours starts next week and I'm already getting excited. Oh who am I kidding? I've been excited for a while now.

    When he's done there, feel free to send the teen over here.

    1. Meghan,
      I'm so glad I'm not alone in being excited about the start of the season. I'm enjoying our first box--peas and strawberries went straight into my mouth on the way home, chard (and potatoes from the store) for supper the first night. Heaven.

  2. I've never heard the term concept recipe, but I'm totally stealing it! I love this post, and with my CSA starting in a couple weeks, I'm definitely going to use this concept. Thanks!

    1. Melissa,
      Steal away--and thank Alanna at A Veggie Venture for bringing it to my/our attention in the first place.

  3. I picked up some beets from the farmers' market with beautiful greens today. I also got some farm fresh shitake mushrooms. As both boys had orthodontist appointments, I knew that dinner was going to be a rushed affair (or late). I dropped off the produce and told my husband that I wanted the greens used with pasta and some sort of sauce. (He's the cook in the family, so filtering your concept recipe down to this was just enough to inspire him.) After frying some bacon, he cooked the mushrooms and wilted the beet greens in the bacon grease. The sauce was a light cream sauce from scratch. Artichoke pieces were added to three of the four bowls (one kid won't touch them- more for me) and then combined with the sauce and sprinkled with bacon and Parmesan cheese. It was a FAST and delicious meal and we still have the beets to enjoy later this weekend.

    1. Heather,
      I'm so glad this concept recipe worked for your family. Thanks for letting me know!

    2. Oh! And that is a brilliant idea about adding artichokes to individual servings--so I set out the jar of artichokes and the jar of olives alongside the shake shake for our "use the trash bag full o' kale" pasta meal the other night, and my spouse and I enjoyed our personalized bowls while the kids didn't need to pick around olives.