I'm one of those people who buys root vegetables with the leaves intact with the intent to cook them up as kind of a "freebie." But most of the time I forget about the greens for a couple of days, and then by the time I get around to using them, they've all but shriveled up. Recipes like this super-quick radish-top pasta from Clotilde Dusoulier's new book, The French Market Cookbook, however, encourage me to change my ways. In the time it takes to boil water and cook pasta, you toast a handful of walnuts, sauté a bit of garlic, and wash and wilt the greens. Toss the cooked pasta in with a splash of pasta water and you're nearly to dinner. A fresh grate of nutmeg adds extra warmth to the greens and a scattering of Parmesan or pecorino will finish things off with a salty bang.
Why I picked this recipe: Frankly, I needed the encouragement to use those gorgeous radish tops I keep buying.
What worked: This almost-effortless recipe puts my vegetable-top laziness to shame.
What didn't: Not a one.
Suggested tweaks: You could use any tender greens here. Leaves from turnips or beets would work particularly well. If you want a heartier meal, you could add a cup of drained and rinsed white beans or chickpeas to the skillet with the garlic and shallots.
Reprinted with permission from The French Market Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes from My Parisian Kitchen by Clotilde Dusoulier. Copyright 2013. Published by Clarkson Potter Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Leaves from 2 bunches of radishes, turnips, or beets (about 10 ounces (280 g))
- 8 ounces (225 g) dried short pasta, such as fusilli or orecchiette
- Olive oil for cooking
- 3 medium (150 g) shallots, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- Fine sea salt
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Aged Parmesan or pecorino cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler
- 12 walnut halves, toasted and roughly chopped
Pick through the radish leaves and discard any that are wilted or discolored. Wash in cold water to remove all traces of sand or grit. Dry and chop roughly.
Bring salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, heat a good swirl of cooking olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring often to avoid coloring, until softened, about 2 minutes.
Add the radish leaves to the skillet, sprinkle with a touch of nutmeg and some salt, stir, and let the leaves wilt briefly in the heat; they should become darker by a shade, but no more. Remove from the heat.
When the pasta is al dente, drain (not too thoroughly; keeping a little of the starchy cooking water makes the pasta silkier) and add to the skillet. Add a gurgle of extra-virgin olive oil and toss to combine over low heat. Sprinkle with pepper and divide between 2 warm pasta bowls or soup plates. Top with the cheese and walnuts and serve immediately.