Weekly Winner:  A Tasty Twist on Beans & Greens

Beans and greens have been friends forever.  Combinations include: collards, escarole, spinach, kale and chard on the green team and cannellini, kidney, and pinto for the bean team.  Put them together and you’re guaranteed a healthy and generally tasty meal or side dish. However, for it to be really memorable, things needed to be switched up in this old standard.  A recipe I found in Bon Appetit did just that by changing the beans and adding pasta and sausage.  That’s a guaranteed winner in my book!

There are a couple of things that make Sausage, Greens, and Beans Pasta unique.  First: the shape of the pasta – paccheri – which is like rigatoni on steroids.  I’m talking huge, short tubes of pasta goodness.  Second: it trades out the standard beans for chickpeas (always a fan favorite in this house).  Finally, there’s the crumbled fried rosemary sprinkled on top.  Enough of me blabbering on — just trust me.  This dish is special.  It’s got a great combination of textures and flavors and is the perfect thing to curl up to prepare for the craziness of the holiday season.

Sausage, Greens, and Beans Pasta

Serves 4

Ingredients:

⅓ cup olive oil

2 sprigs rosemary

8 ounces spicy Italian sausage, casings removed

1 15.5-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed, patted dry

¼ cup dry white wine

12 ounces paccheri (large tubular) pasta

Kosher salt

8 cups (lightly packed) torn kale

¾ cup finely grated Parmesan, divided

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Procedure:

  1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high. Fry rosemary, turning, until crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  2. Add sausage to same pot and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon and stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 8–10 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate.
  3. Add chickpeas to pot and cook, tossing occasionally and mashing some chickpeas with spoon, until browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Transfer about half of chickpeas to plate with sausage. Add wine to pot, bring to a boil, and cook until liquid is almost completely evaporated, about 2 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 3 minutes less than package directions.
  5. Using a spider or a slotted spoon, transfer pasta to pot with chickpeas and add kale and 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Cook, tossing often, until kale is wilted, pasta is al dente, and sauce is thickened, about 4 minutes. Add another ¼ cup pasta cooking liquid, then gradually add ½ cup cheese, tossing until melted and dissolved into a luxurious, glossy sauce. Thin with more pasta cooking liquid if needed. Season with pepper, and more salt if needed. Add butter and toss to combine, then mix in reserved sausage and chickpeas.
  6. Divide pasta among bowls. Crumble rosemary over top and sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup cheese.
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Weekly Winner:  A Flavor Bomb of Sticky, Tangy Goodness

I’ve discovered a new obsession.  It started innocently enough with needing to purchase if for a salad a client requested.  I had never heard of the stuff and actually had a bit of trouble finding it.  Then I did find it…and I tried it….and I’ve been using it on anything I can think of.  What is it? Pomegranate Molasses.  Seriously, this stuff rocks!  It’s a tart, sweet, sticky, fruity miracle.  Luckily it is also becoming hip which means its showing up in more recipes and is also getting a bit easier to find, although I still mail order mine.

The latest success with using pomegranate molasses was in Pomegranate-Glazed Chicken Thighs.  Less of a success was my attempt at photographing it, but hopefully the recipe and description will make up for it!  I got the recipe from Fine Cooking and man, is there a lot going on in this dish with only a few ingredients.  The only other hard to find ingredient is za’atar spice blend, which I easily mixed up once I knew what it was.  The heat of the red pepper flakes with the depth of the garlic, the earthiness of the za’atar spice blend (trust me on this, google it and make your own to keep on hand), the crunch of the walnuts and the magic that is pomegranate molasses all combine for an amazing dish. Which is more than I can say for the picture.

Pomegranate-Glazed Chicken Thighs

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp cornstarch

2 Tbsp za’atar

1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper flakes

1-1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 Tbsp finely chopped garlic

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

4 tsp vegetable oil

1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses [it’s quite possible I doubled this amount]

1 scallion, thinly sliced

1/3 cup lightly toasted walnuts, chopped

Lemon wedges, for serving.

Procedure:

  • In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, za’atar, and Aleppo pepper.  In a large bowl, toss the chicken with the garlic and season generously with salt and pepper.  Rub the spice mixture into the chicken.
  • Heat the oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add the chicken in a single layer and cook until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes.  Flip and cook the second side until browned, another 6 to 8 minutes.  Drizzle with the pomegranate molasses, sprinkle with the scallion and nuts, and serve with the lemon wedges.