Over two years ago, I wrote about Trader Joe’s Lemon Pepper Paradelle. It is one of the best items at the store, or any store. It’s cheap, it is full of flavor and goes well with lots of different vegetables. It was the Vegetarian’s birthday, so I made a nice lunch which included the pasta, one of her favorites. I raided the fridge of some of its vegetables: broccoli rabe and spinach. To add some protein, I also added some canned chickpeas (we were out of white beans) which really added some texture in the end.
I don’t cook broccoli rabe a lot, but I’ve learned the key is to blanch and immediately place it into an ice bath (shock those veggies). This keeps the vegetable a vibrant green color, gets it perfectly tender and removes the often bitter flavor of the broccoli rabe. Rather than blanch the spinach, I added that to a large saute pan along with the broccoli, garlic and the pasta.
Serves 2 (slightly larger portions – 4 oz pasta each)
1 package Trader Joe’s Lemon Pepper paradelle, cooked according to package
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
~ 6 oz broccoli rabe, trimmed of any leaves
~ 4 oz fresh spinach
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper
~ 1 cup pasta water
In a large pot, bring water to boil. Add a health pinch of salt. When water is boiling add broccoli rabe. Meanwhile, prepare your ice bath. In a large bowl add ice and cold water. Broccoli rabe should cook in about 3-4 minutes. Use tongs and test for tenderness. When tender, immediately place in ice water bath. Set aside.
Bring water back to a boil and add pasta. Cook until al dente (about a minute less than directions — I cooked for 8 minutes).
While pasta is cooking, heat butter over medium-low heat in large saute pan large enough to fit pasta and broccoli. When melted, add garlic and cook 1 minute, until fragrant. Add broccoli rabe and increase heat to medium. Cook for 2-3 minutes, add chickpeas. When pasta is ready, strain but reserve about 1 cup of the hot pasta water. Add pasta to pan, mix well and add spinach and about half of the pasta water. Cover to let spinach cook for about 2 minutes. Uncover and add remaining pasta water. Finish dish with Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.