Spring Kickin' Radiatore

It took a while to get here, but what delicious results! It's not a secret that I'm a huge pasta fan. But over the last few weeks, I've been searching for a fabulous new pasta recipe. I'm happy to say that I finally found it! 

My pasta craving started when I travelled to Denver, Colorado earlier this month. I ordered the Mac and Cheese at Wynkoop Brewery after a long day of attending training classes. Comfort food was just what I needed.

The beer bread crumbs were fantastic, and the dish was good overall. But it didn't satisfy my pasta craving. I thought maybe a dish that wasn't so heavy would be better. So, I tried this Udon Noodle Salad.

Perfect for a hot summer day, this cold noodle salad had an assortment of fresh veggies with a wonderful ginger vinaigrette dressing. Left overs were not nearly as good and so I continued my search.

When we got our first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box from Harmony Valley Farm, I was inspired to make a version of my favorite Lemon Tossed Linguine with the fresh chives and asparagus. Since I was out of linguine, I made it with elbow macaroni. It wasn't nearly as good as the original version. Alas.

 Knowing that we receive another CSA box this week, I knew I needed to use up a lot of the veggies we received a couple weeks ago. Here's what our box contained!

sunchokes, parsnips, French Breakfast Radishes, arugula, salad mix, nettles,
green garlic, asparagus, Egyptian Walking Onions, rhubarb, and chives.

Bonus idea: my favorite thing to do with rhubarb is to make a coulis (it takes 15 minutes - so easy!) and mix a couple teaspoons of coulis with sparkling water for a delicious Rhubarb Spritzer. The spritzer is also dangerously good with some cake vodka... Go make this now!

The Spring Kickin' Radiatore dish gets its spice from the bitter arugula and the red pepper flakes. But the lemon and the use of all these spring vegetables makes it perfect for a spring day. Plus, I used tricolor radiatore and it was so pretty! 

A couple notes about some of the less common ingredients

Green Garlic: This is simply an immature garlic plant. If left alone, it would produce a garlic bulb. It looks identical (to me) to green onions but smells like garlic. It's more mild than garlic cloves, which you can substitute if you don't have green garlic.

Egyptian Walking Onions: These also look similar to green onions and get their name by the way they grow. They taste fairly mild, kind of like leeks. 

Nettles: Considered by many to be a painful weed, nettles have jagged leaves that have formic acid on them and cause a painful stinging on any exposed skin. However, they are a super food! They are high in protein, iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, magnesium, and potassium. They are also an anti-inflammatory - nettle tea is said to help with allergies and arthritis. As long as they are washed well (use gloves) and then cooked, the stinging will not be a problem. This recipe is unique because it not only uses the greens, but it cooks the pasta in the super healthy "tea" water. Double bonus. :) 

If you substitute another green for nettles, you can just add it with the arugula instead of blanching beforehand. 

Spring Kickin' Radiatore
4 servings, 40 minutes

1 cup nettles (or arugula, kale, or spinach)
8 oz radiatore (or similar spiraled-shaped pasta)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 stalks green garlic (or 2 cloves garlic), chopped
2 tablespoons Egyptian Walking onions (or green onions), chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup tomatoes, petite diced
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
1 cup arugula, finely chopped
1/2 cup chives, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Bring a big pot of salted water to boil. Place the nettle leaves in the water and boil for about 7-10 minutes. Scoop out, rinse with cold water, and chop finely. Set aside.
  2. Add radiatore to nettle water. Cook for about 15 minutes or until al dente. Reserve about a cup of pasta water, then drain.
  3. In a small sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, onions, and red pepper flakes. Cook until softened and fragrant - about 5 minutes or so.
  4. Add tomatoes and cook for another minute or two. Add wine, if using, and let simmer for about 5 minutes (or longer if you have the time).
  5. Stir in the arugula, nettles, chives and lemon zest. Cook for about 3 minutes. Taste. Season with salt and pepper. 
  6. Stir sauce into pasta. Add the lemon juice and the pasta sauce. Thin with pasta water until desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. 
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