This super green pasta is loaded with fresh farmers’ market veggies and herbs. A flexible and easy recipe for enjoying summer produce!
It’s prime summertime and your local farmers’ market is bursting with fresh green veggies and herbs. If you’re like me, you probably went a bit overboard and bought more than you can consume in the next few days. No worries, this pasta will help you turn all of that delicious, good for you green stuff into a pasta that you’ll be making all summer long.
This summer veggie-loaded green pasta is super fresh, garlicky, lemony, a bit creamy and extremely delicious. The recipe is super flexible and fun, meant to work with whatever you pick up at the farmers’ market or find in your CSA box. It’s perfect for a quick dinner or also for a picnic or lunch to go. The leftovers are perfect either reheated or cold. Let’s make it!
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Ingredients & Substitutions
The best part about this recipe is the variety of substitutions you can do. Bet you can’t make it the same way twice!
- Kale: I used kale when I developed this recipe because that’s what was in my CSA box. Spinach or arugula would also work nicely in this recipe.
- Broccoli: I like the texture of having pieces of whole vegetable mixed in. I used broccoli but you could also add asparagus, cauliflower or peas. Whatever you like!
- Scallions: If you don’t have scallions, use chives or even a small shallot for some mild, sweet oniony flavor.
- Fresh herbs: I used a combination of basil and parsley. You can use whatever soft herbs are popping out of your garden at the moment. I recommend using some basil for that classic pesto flavor but feel free to experiment with mint, cilantro, chervil and tarragon for a different twist!
- Garlic scapes: If you find garlic scapes at the farmers’ market or find a bunch in your CSA box, this is the dish to use them! If you don’t have garlic scapes, throw in a few cloves of garlic. It will be just as delicious.
- Fresh lemons: Zest and juice for brightness. Non-negotiable.
- Almonds: I often use almonds in my pestos but you can substitute walnuts, pine nuts or even pistachios.
- Parmesan cheese: We’re making something similar to pesto here.
- Good olive oil: This dish is all about celebrating the fresh flavors of the veggies. Do them justice and use the good stuff. I recommend The Furies.
- Salt & red pepper flakes: To taste.
- Pasta of your choice: I used Paccheri shaped pasta in this recipe. It’s like jumbo rigatoni. The extra large tubes are wonderful for filling up with luscious green veggie sauce!
- Pasta water: This is the MOST IMPORTANT component of this recipe. The starchy water from cooking the pasta is the key ingredient to making this entire dish come together. DO NOT DUMP THE PASTA WATER. If you do, you will not be able to achieve the silky, slightly creamy texture from the pasta water. Just do whatever you can to remember to save some!
What are Garlic Scapes?
If you read the ingredient list above, you might now be wondering, what are garlic scapes? Long, curly, green garlic scapes are often one of the first things to appear at farmers’ markets when they open in the spring. Garlic scapes are the tender stem and flower bud of the garlic bulb. They almost look and feel like curly green beans with a little bulb on the end. They have a texture similar to asparagus and have a mild, unique flavor that tastes like a blend of onion, scallion and garlic. They’re absolutely wonderful and you should try them!
Garlic is a unique crop in that it has two harvests during the season. The scapes are harvested in the late spring and early summer and the bulbs come out of the ground a bit later. The farmers cut the scapes off because the plant will use up all of its energy trying to grow the stem and flower, sucking all of the nutrients and flavor out of the bulb. I learned all about this process when I picked up my CSA box at Middlebury Farms. Essentially, by consuming garlic scapes, you’re helping to make the farming process even more sustainable. How cool!
This dish comes together pretty quickly and requires minimal veggie prep as most of the ingredients are going straight into the food processor. Start by putting on a large pot of salty water and cooking your pasta to al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, prep the veggies. Slice the scallions and separate the white and light green parts from the dark green parts. If you’re using kale, strip the leaves from the tough, woody stem. Cut the broccoli into small florets.
Before you drain the pasta, set aside 1-2 cups of starchy pasta water. In a large sauté pan, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil. Add in the white and light green parts of the scallions and the broccoli florets and cook for 3-4 minutes until bright green and tender crisp. Sometimes I add in a splash of water and cover to cook evenly. If using asparagus, cauliflower or other whole vegetable, follow the same method. If using shallots instead of scallions, mince and add now. Substituting chives? Add those in with fresh herbs.
Add the leafy greens, nuts, lemon zest and lemon juice to the food processor and pulse until broken down.
Trim the garlic scapes by cutting off the bulbs. They are edible but have kind of a tough, stringy texture so it’s best to discard them. Add the scapes to the food processor and pulse again until combined.
Add the herbs, cheese and salt to the mixture in the food processor and pulse again. While the food processor is running, stream in the olive oil until everything is combined. With the food processor running, stream in the pasta water until desired consistency is reached. I like to stop when it’s a bit thick and then add more in the pan.
Add the cooked pasta and sauce to the sauté pan with the cooked broccoli. Turn on low heat and toss until everything is combined, adding more pasta water until the pasta is well coated. Serve in big bowls topped with the green parts of scallions, more herbs and red pepper flakes for garnish.
Tips and Notes
This is a freestyle recipe and it’s meant to celebrate whatever is fresh. It probably won’t come out the same way every time. That’s why it’s so fun to make!
The most important component is the pasta water. Do not forget to set some aside before you drain your pasta. The pasta water is what makes the sauce smooth, a little bit creamy and helps it stick to the noodles.
As always, make sure your pasta water is liberally salted. It’s the first step to a well seasoned pasta dish.
What to serve with Farmers’ Market Green Pasta?
In my opinion, this is a one bowl meal. It has everything you need! If you want to kick it up a notch, don’t be afraid to break open a creamy ball of burrata on top and serve it up with some crusty bread. If this is part of your bbq or picnic spread here are some recipes that would pair nicely.
Farmers’ Market Green Pasta
- 1 lb pasta of your choice
- 1 bunch kale stems removed or 2 cups leafy greens like spinach or arugula
- 2-3 cups small broccoli florets
- 1 bunch scallions
- 1 bunch garlic scapes or 2 cloves garlic
- 2 lemons zest of one, juice of both
- 1 cup fresh soft herbs ½ cup packed each of basil and parsley
- ⅓ cup sliced almonds
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup good olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1-1.5 cups starchy pasta water
- Red pepper flakes to taste
- Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Set aside 2 cups of pasta water before draining.
- Thinly slice scallions and separate white and light green parts and dark green parts (see post for substitutions)
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan and add in broccoli florets and white and light green parts of scallions. Add a splash of water, cover and cook for 3-4 minutes until bright green and tender crisp. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In the bowl of a food processor add in leafy greens, nuts, salt, lemon zest and juice and pulse until broken down.
- Trim bulbs off of garlic scapes and add to food processor, pulse until broken down.
- Add in herbs and cheese. With the food processor running, stream in olive oil until everything is well combined. It will be a bit chunky.
- With the food processor running, stream in pasta water until a thick, pesto-like consistency is achieved.
- Add cooked pasta and sauce back to sauté pan with cooked broccoli and scallions and warm through over low heat. Add more pasta water to help coat the noodles if needed.
- Garnish with red pepper flakes, dark green parts of scallions and more parmesan cheese. Serve.