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Pan-Seared Penne and Greens with Feta and Pine Nuts Recipe

User Rating 2.5 Star Rating (2 Reviews)


Kale, cabbage, and spinach are sauteed with herbs and garlic to top pan-fried penne pasta with feta cheese. Shrimp is optional, but a delicious addition.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes


  • Pasta:
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 to 4 Tablespoons clarified butter (see Note)
  • Salt and cracked pepper to taste (not too much salt, because the feta is salty)
  • 8 shallots, minced
  • .
  • Greens:
  • 4 cups (packed) stemmed and torn kale leaves
  • 1/2 head Savoy or green cabbage, cored and sliced
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons good-quality olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup crumbled good-quality feta cheese, plus additional for garnish
  • 3 Tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 3 Tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 pound spinach, stems removed, washed, and dried
  • .
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 3 to 6 peeled and deveined shrimp per person, browned in olive oil (optional)


For the Pasta:
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the penne pasta and cook until it is edible but still quite firm. Drain the pasta in a colander. Immediately pour the olive oil over the penne and toss so that the pasta does not stick together. Cool under cold running water to completely stop the cooking. (The pasta will be cooked again, so at this stage it must be left underdone.)

In a large saute pan over medium heat, pour in some of the clarified butter; don t allow the butter to turn brown or smoke. Drop in some penne and add a little salt and pepper. Shake the pan around until at least one side of the penne is golden brown. If you go too far, the pasta will either burn or become hard and dried out. When the pasta is almost done, add some shallots. Let them cook the rest of the way with the penne. Depending on the size of your pan, this process may have to be repeated a few times until all the penne and shallots have been seared.

For the Greens:
In another large saute pan over high heat, saute the kale and cabbage in the olive oil until soft and slightly browned but not mushy. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or two. Add the feta cheese, basil, and parsley. Toss the greens with the penne and, lastly, toss in the spinach. The spinach only needs to be wilted.

Divide the penne and greens among 4 plates. Squeeze a lemon wedge over each plate. Crumble more feta on top and sprinkle with pine nuts and red pepper flakes. Place the shrimp, if using, and lemon wedges on the very top of each dish.

Note: To make clarified butter, simply melt 3 to 5 tablespoons butter. Let stand. When the butter has separated, pour the "oil" off the top. This is clarified butter Discard the cloudy, milky part at the bottom.

Yield: 4 servings

Recipe Source: Cafe Pongo Cookbook by Valerie Nehez (Simon & Schuster)
Reprinted with permission.

User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 4 out of 5
this recipie has a lot of wiggle room, Member mecroteau

I didn't add shallots at all, and I couldn't find kale or savoy, so I substituted chard and bok choy.I also used cilantro instead of parsley. It was absolutely delicious, though a little too fussy in preparation. Next time I'll skip the pan searing of the penne, which was a pain. Nonetheless, it was definitely a great medley of tastes, very well balanced.

6 out of 6 people found this helpful.

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