Collard Pesto Pasta

Serves: 4-6


For Collard Pesto sauce:
1 (2 pound) bag Cut 'N Clean Greens Collard Greens
2 1/2-3 ounces pitted brine-cured green olives
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup water (approximate)
For Collard Pesto Pasta:
1 (1 pound) package rigatoni or other short, ridged pasta that will capture sauce
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling at the table
Optional garnish: Toasted pine nuts


To make pesto: In a large stockpot, bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil. Toss collards into boiling water, stirring down until all are submerged. Boil gently, uncovered, stirring once or twice, for about 15 minutes; collards should be tender. When time is up, transfer collards with a mesh scoop or tongs to a colander and drain; press on them a bit to extract any excess water. (If you will be making pasta now, reserve the hot greens water in the pot for cooking the pasta.)

While greens are cooking, whirl olives and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add vinegar, red pepper, black pepper. When greens are drained well, add them to the work bowl and whirl. With motor running, slowly add oil, stopping to stir mixture down from the sides as needed. Then, with motor running, slowly add the 1 cup water until the greens-pesto mixture is loose enough to whirl more smoothly in the food processor. This should take the entire cup -- or nearly the whole cup -- of water. (Pesto is a thick and pasty sauce; you are not trying to make a watery sauce, so if you think it is becoming too loose, stop adding the water.)

You will have about 3 1/2 cups Collard Pesto. This is enough for 2 pounds of pasta. (You may freeze half the Collard Pesto sauce in a zipper-top freezer bag, if you like, or store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days.)

To make the Collard Pesto Pasta: Bring the greens cooking water back to a boil, and add dry pasta. Cook until pasta is al dente (firm to the bite), following timing directions on the package. When pasta is done, scoop out 1 cup of the cooking water and reserve it. Drain pasta in colander, and then return hot pasta to the same cooking pot. Add half the Collard Pesto (the recipe makes enough to use with 2 pounds of pasta) and stir well to combine, adding some of the reserved hot cooking water to loosen it enough to coat the pasta. Add 1/4 cup Parmesan and stir well. At this point, taste it for salt; the olives and cheese are quite salty, so you may not need any additional salt. If you find you do, either add a sprinkling now, or let each individual salt his own dish at the table as desired.

Serve on plates or in wide, shallow bowls, sprinkling with additional grated Parmesan and toasted pine nuts, if desired.

Reminder: This pesto recipe makes enough for 2 pounds of pasta, so if you are making only 1 pound of pasta, save half the pesto either in the refrigerator or freezer for a future use. Or double the pasta portion of the recipe!

Popular vegetable substitutions include: Collard Greens or Country Greens or Organic Hearty Greens

A variation on the classic pesto, this Collard Pesto recipe makes a unique entree