Pappardelle Pasta with Broccolini, Feta, Pine Nuts and Lemon. Last summer I took a wonderful cooking class with Tom Hudgens, author of The Commonsense Kitchen and a College of Marin colleague and friend. Every class culminated with a shared lunch of all the wonderful, creative, seasonal food that Tom had just taught us how to make. This pasta is so easy and so delicious that it became part of my regular repertoire of dinners for but then I forgot about it for awhile. I saw pine nuts at Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago and remembered this pasta.
A note here, this is really Tom’s recipe – I’ve hardly changed it at all. I just like it more lemony than the original which has lemon zest but no lemon juice, so I’ve added lemon juice. This is a great one-pot dinner because the broccolini goes into the same pot as the pasta to cook. I use more pine nuts than the original recipe but if you are serving it as a side you can go with the smaller amount. I usually don’t use the chile pepper flakes – but I include them for those of you who want a little more bite. The recipe is wonderful exactly as written but it’s also great if you don’t have pappardelle pasta.
I made it last week with bow tie pasta and broccoli. Although the recipe calls for broccolini it is equally yummy with broccoli. In fact, I’ve even substituted toasted, slivered almonds for the pine nuts and even though it isn’t quite as good as the original, it’s really still a very satisfying combination. What is crucial in my opinion is pasta, feta cheese, lemon zest, olive oil and a green vegetable plus some toasty nuts. It makes a big, comforting bowl of pasta.
Pasta with Broccolini, Feta Cheese, Pine Nuts & Lemon
(barely adapted from The Commonsense Kitchen, Tom Hudgens)
Serves 4 to 6
8 oz. pasta (Pappardelle or other shape)
salt (for the pasta water)
1 lb. broccolini, or sprouting broccoli, or broccoli
2 to 4 oz. pine nuts I love this pasta for dinner by itself so use the greater amount of nuts. If it is part of a larger meal, you can use fewer pine nuts (Trader Joe’s has dry-toasted pine nuts)
extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (sheep’s or goat’s milk, if possible)
1 lemon (zest and juice)
black pepper to taste
pinch of hot red pepper flakes (optional)
Cut the broccolini into large bite-sized pieces – in half lengthwise and crosswise is just about right.
If the pine nuts aren’t dry-toasted , toast them in a dry pan over medium heat until, they are golden brown.
Bring 1 1/2 gallons of water to a rolling boil, and add a heaping tablespoon of salt. Throw in the pasta, and boil, stirring frequently, until the pasta is almost, but not quite, cooked through. Add the broccolini to the pot and cook until pasta and broccolini are tender.
While the pasta and broccolini are cooking zest the lemon then cut lemon in half.
When both the pasta and the broccolini are cooked, scoop a bit of the pasta water out of the post and set aside. Drain pasta and broccolini.
In a large bowl (or I often use the pot in which I cooked the pasta), combine the pasta and broccolini with a splash of olive oil, a bit of the pasta water, 2/3 the feta cheese, pine nuts, lemon zest, squeeze on juice from one or both halves of lemon as desired, add red pepper flakes if using, and black pepper to taste. Now put it in the serving bowl, top with remaining feta and serve. You can also set aside a bit of the lemon zest and pine nuts and sprinkle those over the finished dish.
When I make this dish I use one of my very favorite kitchen tools, a microplane grater. It is incredible for getting loads of zest off a lemon and if I splurge on a chunk of good Parmesan cheese the microplane grater makes a fine, snowy pile. It is also a good tool for grating fresh ginger.
I made this pasta for my friends, Carson and Ian, last year when I went visit them with their new baby boy, Eamon. Here is Eamon from that night in June of 2010.
One last note: I usually buy fat-free feta cheese and have used that in the pasta recipe, but Tom recommended some Israeli sheep’s milk feta from a place called “Pastures of Eden“. He found it at Woodland Market in Kentfield and said it was probably the best feta cheese he’d ever tasted. I bought some today and it is incredible! It is creamy yet still crumbly, tangy and salty. It was marvelous in this dish. If you are looking at a specialty shop for feta cheese, keep an eye out for it.
UPDATE: I found the Pastures of Eden Feta cheese individually packaged at Trader Joe’s.
Thank you for stopping by. Now go make that pasta!