Reduce wasted greens, eat delicious chewy pasta and prepare for St. Patrick’s Day next month, all with one simple recipe!
Green with envy-ronmental benefits
For this post, I turned my pasta a pretty shade of green and prevented a bunch of Japanese turnip leaves from becoming wasted food, a significant source of emissions. Leaves of similarly mild Daikon radishes also work (as do spinach or parsley). I haven’t tried this with more peppery radish leaves but that is also a possibility.
Like most creative food waste-prevention strategies, the pasta tastes delicious. After tearing off the leaves, I reserved the finely chopped stems to add to another dish such as a stir-fry, an omelet, fried rice or soup.
I can sometimes get these leafy greens at our farmers’ market for free. When customers ask vendors to remove these tops, the greens go into a bin for other customers to take home to feed to their chickens or humans (or both). If you score lots of these greens, you could use some to make pesto for your pasta. (Go here for a basic pesto recipe.)
We buy most of our pastured eggs at the farmers’ market. Occasionally a friend with backyard chickens will give us a dozen. One of the extremely fresh eggs that went into this pasta had straw stuck to it from a friend’s coop.
If you are vegan, you can swap out the eggs for water and additional greens. I have an egg-free pumpkin pasta recipe here that you can use as a guide to veganize this recipe. That recipe doesn’t call for water so you’ll have to add just enough to make a crumbly dough. Add some of that water to the blender. Even after cooking, fibrous turnip greens need a good whir with liquid in order to render a smooth purée.
I like to use semolina or a combination of semolina and all-purpose flour for homemade pasta but during Covid, I’ve been unable to buy bulk semolina so we’ve been using all-purpose only. I find all our homemade pasta tastes pretty fabulous though.
Save-All-the-Greens Turnip Top Pasta
- 2 cups torn leaves of white Japanese turnips, Daikon radishes or other mild leafy greens, loosely packed
- 4 large eggs
- 3 cups all-purpose flour or half all-purpose, half semolina
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups homemade pesto or other pasta sauce of choice
- Sauté or steam the greens until wilted. They will shrink down to about ¼ cup once cooked. Purée the cooked greens and eggs in a blender just until combined and smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- For a beginner, you may want to use a large bowl to make the pasta. Otherwise, place the flour directly on your work surface. Make a large well in the center. Pour the egg mixture into the well. With a fork, incorporate the flour from the edges of the well into the egg mixture. Continue until you’ve formed a crumbly dough.
- Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. (You likely won't need more flour on your work surface.) The dough should spring back after you make an indentation in it with your thumb. If it doesn’t spring back, keep kneading it. This can take about 10 minutes. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 6 equal portions.
- IF USING A PASTA MACHINE: Dust each portion with flour before running it through the machine to flatten, starting at the lowest setting (0) and working up to a higher setting (5 or 6). Dust with flour between rollings as needed to prevent the pasta from sticking. Run the sheets through the fettuccine cutter.
- IF SHAPING THE PASTA BY HAND: Lightly dust the work surface with flour, if necessary, as you roll out each piece of the dough to about ⅛-inch thick. Dust the dough with flour. Roll each piece of the dough up into a very loose tube. You will be slicing noodles from these tubes, so you don’t want them too tightly wound and stuck together. For fettuccine noodles, cut ¼-inch-wide slices from each roll.
- Add the salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. If you allow the pasta to dry, it will cook more slowly, in about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander.
- Add the pesto to the now empty pot. Return the noodles to the pot and toss. Serve immediately.