On Your Table: Fall back for a little pasta

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By Cathy Branciaroli, Food Correspondent, The Times

Green vegetables add brightness to this dish and the meat makes it a substantial dish.

No meal is more perfect for the onset of cold weather than a nice hearty plate of pasta.  We all love these  but you don’t need to limit yourself to the classics like spaghetti.

In fact, I think greens makes some of the best inspiration for seasonal pasta dishes. It’s great to take advantage of the season in the best possible ways — I know fall vegetables are coming in season but you can still get green vegetables which I think brighten up a dish – think green peas and asparagus.

In the dish below, leek pare well with green vegetables like spinach, peas and I always like to add asparagus for a tart note.  The meat balances the vegetable sweetness so it ends up being a well rounded dish.

Pasta Casserole with Green vegetables


2 tsp olive oil

2-3 large leeks, washed

1 large garlic clove finely chopped

5 packed cups baby spinach

1/ ½ cups baby peas

1 cup chopped asparagus

12 oz small pasta such as penne, farfalle etc.

1 lb sausage or other meat like chicken

2 oz parmesian cheese

1/3 cup basil, chopped

Small wedges of tomato for garnish

salt & pepper to taste



Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil,

Trim the leeks, cut in half lengthwise and rinse.

Heat the oil, cook sausage or meat, breaking into small pieces, 5-7 minutes. Remove from pan.

Reserving the fat, add leeks and salt.  Sautee 5-7 minutes.  Add garlic, cook an addition 1 minute.  Stir in spinach, peas and asparagus,till wilted and asparagus is softened.  Add back meat.

Reserving 1 cup of the pasta water cook till al dente.  Season to taste.  Top with parmesan cheese.  Serve warm.


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