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Pasta with greens, garlic and chilli

Wilted greens combined with a hearty portion of pasta and spiked with garlic and chilli make a satisfying supper. The following variations on that theme are equally delicious, sustaining and easy to put together.


Put a large pan of well-salted water on to boil, so that you're ready to cook the pasta while the sauce is coming together. Remove the core and thick stems from the greens or cabbage and shred the leaves.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a low heat. Add the onion and cook gently for 10 minutes, or until soft. Add the chilli and garlic and some salt and pepper, and continue to cook for about 3 minutes.

When the onion is almost cooked, add the pasta to the pan of boiling water and cook until al dente, adding the greens to the pan about 3 minutes before the end of cooking.

Drain the pasta and greens thoroughly and toss with the onion mixture in the frying pan. Check the seasoning, then serve, with extra virgin olive oil for trickling and lots of grated cheese.


Pasta with broccoli

Use a head of broccoli, cut into small florets, instead of the greens, and give it a good 5 minutes' cooking with the pasta - it should be well done so that it starts to break down and cling to the pasta. Omit the onion, and just warm the oil with the chilli and garlic for a few minutes.

Orecchiette with chickpeas and cavolo nero

Adding chickpeas makes this a more substantial main course dish. Use 250g orecchiette, penne or farfalle pasta (little ‘ear’ shaped orecchiette are great with chickpeas, which get stuck in the ‘earholes’). You can use any greens, but it’s particularly good with cavolo nero or curly kale, tough ribs removed, leaves roughly shredded. Gently fry the onion, chilli and garlic, as above, then add a drained, rinsed 400g tin of chickpeas with a pinch of ground cumin, and heat through thoroughly before tossing together with the pasta and greens. Serve trickled with extra virgin oil, but omit the cheese.

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  • 2-3 heads of spring greens or kale, or a Savoy cabbage
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • ½-1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped, or 2 good pinches of dried chilli flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely slivered
  • 300g pasta shapes, such as penne, fusilli, trofie or strozzapreti
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Well-flavoured hard cheese

This recipe is taken from...

River Cottage Veg Every Day!