Orecchiette With Mustard Greens 4.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; tableware from Crate and Barrel

Weeknight Vegetarian Apr 24, 2013

The original version of this recipe called for blanching the greens in the boiling water. But if you prefer your greens to keep a little of their spicy bite, sauteing them is the way to go.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 8 ounces dried orecchiette pasta
  • 2 pounds mustard greens
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts (see NOTE)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup grated or shaved pecorino Romano cheese, for garnish


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to the package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, remove the thick ribs from the mustard greens and discard. Wash and thoroughly dry the leaves, then stack them and cut into 1-inch-wide strips.

Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Once it shimmers, add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes; cook briefly, until the garlic just starts to soften. Add the greens and use tongs to toss them as they wilt. Cook them, tossing and stirring frequently, until they become tender, about 5 minutes, then turn off the heat, stir in the basil and pine nuts and toss to combine.

Add the pasta and toss to combine, adding enough of the reserved pasta cooking water to form a creamy sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon the pasta into individual bowls, top with the cheese and serve.

NOTE: Toast the pine nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan frequently, just until they start to brown and become fragrant. Immediately transfer them to a plate so they don't continue cooking.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "50 Best Plants on the Planet," by Cathy Thomas and Melissa's Produce (Chronicle Books, 2013).

Tested by Joe Yonan.

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