Sunday, October 14, 2012

Recipe for Macaroni with Greens, Lemon, and Parmesan

Macaroni with Greens, Lemon, and Parmesan
I could make a meal out of this Macaroni with Greens, Lemon, and Parmesan!

(First posted in 2006; updated with better photos and instructions in October 2012.)  Through the years I've tried quite a few recipes that featured some combination of pasta and greens, and I don't think it's any secret that kale has become the variety of greens I'm most fond of.  So while I was a little ambivalent about the mustard greens I used when I first created this recipe, this time I absolutely swooned over the dish with Ready-to-use Organic Mixed Baby Kale. This recipe is a different take on the usual pasta/greens combo, in particular because of the way the generous amount of lemon zest accents the flavor of the kale.  If you're not a fan of kale, collard greens or swiss chard would also taste good in this dish.

This recipe could certainly make a great veggie and pasta side dish (and maybe you can tell your kids that it's Macaroni and Cheese with Kale!)  But truthfully, for a Meatless Monday dinner I would happily eat a big bowl of this with a nice green salad on the side.  (You can find more meatless recipes by using the label Meatless Monday or checking Vegetarian Recipes in the recipe index, and I'm also doing a meatless slow cooker recipe each Monday on Slow Cooker from Scratch.  For more Meatless Monday ideas from other bloggers, follow our Meatless Monday board on Pinterest, or check Meatless Monday at BlogHer, where I write a weekly post spotlighting one of the fabulous meatless recipe ideas I find around the web.)

Start cooking the pasta in salted water; then zest two large lemons, and then squeeze the juice.  (You will only need 1 tablespoon of juice for this recipe, but just freeze the extra lemon juice.)

If you're using larger greens you'll need to chop them up but with the Ready-to-use Organic Mixed Baby Kale, we just washed it in the salad spinner.

Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan; then add the garlic and lemon zest and saute 1 minute.

Add the greens and saute until they're wilted.  This will take just 2-3 minutes for baby greens and about 5 minutes for larger chopped greens. 

Drain the pasta, saving 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Add the hot pasta, lemon juice, and reserved pasta cooking water to the pan.  Turn off heat and mix in the Parmesan cheese and serve hot.

And embarrassing as it is, here's the original photo of this dish from back in 2006!

Macaroni with Greens, Lemon, and Parmesan
(Makes about 4 side dish servings, recipe created by Kalyn)

2 cups (dry) Dreamfields Low-Carb Macaroni or whole wheat macaroni
1 tsp. salt for pasta cooking water
1 bunch greens such as kale, collards, mustard greens, or swiss chard (I used 8 oz. Ready-to-use Organic Mixed Baby Kale)
1 tsp. minced garlic
zest from 2 lemons
1 T lemon juice (I would freeze the extra juice to use later)
2 T olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water until barely al dente (about 8-9 minutes, but follow cooking time on the package of pasta).  Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water before draining.

While pasta cooks, zest the lemons and squeeze the juice and finely chop the garlic.  Save 1 tablespoon of juice for this recipe and store or freeze the rest.  Wash greens in a salad spinner and spin dry.  If using larger greens, slice crosswise into 1 inch wide ribbons, discarding stems.  (Baby greens don't need to be sliced.)

Heat olive oil in large frying pan, add garlic and lemon zest and saute 1 minute. Add greens and saute until wilted, about 5 minutes for larger greens or 2-3 minutes for baby greens.

As soon as pasta is al dente, save 1/4 cup cooking water and then drain the pasta well and add to  greens/garlic/lemon mixture, with lemon juice and reserved pasta cooking water (as needed.)  Stir in Parmesan cheese and serve hot, with additional cheese to be added at the table if desired.

South Beach Suggestions:
Made with Dreamfields pasta or whole wheat pasta, this would be a great dish for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet. (Remember that if Dreamfields pasta is cooked for a long time or reheated it increases the glycemic index, so this recipe is probably only for phase 3 if reheated.)

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Vegetarian Recipe Ideas with Kale:
Crunchy Crust Kale Pasta Bake from Fig and Cherry
Vegetarian Whole Wheat Pasta with Fried Kale, Tomato Sauce, and Goat Cheese from Kalyn's Kitchen
Spaghetti with Kale and Tomato Sauce from Bell'alimento
Baby Kale and Mozzarella Quesadillas with Sriracha-Ranch Dipping Sauce from Kalyn's Kitchen  
Vegan Red Curry Tofu with Kale and Brown Rice from The Perfect Pantry

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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!
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mg said...

I have a feeling that mustard greens are the same as mizuna... i'll check this.

sher said...

I also love pasta with greens. I was born in the South and there are definite mustard green factions there. Some peope in my family don't like them very much and prefer turnip greens or collards, others adore them. I like them when they are very young.

kudzu said...

Mustard greens can be daunting, they are so personally intense. We used to mix them in with turnip greens (less assertive). Of course they were cooked much longer than yours -- and there's a reason why. They really need to mellow out and are better in the slow-cooked Southern style. I admire your dedication and your pursuit of new greens -- these are juse observations.

Kalyn said...

Mae, let us know about this. I love learning new names for things.

Kalyn said...

Oh, we're cross commenting. How exciting. Sher and Kudzu, thanks for your comments about the mustard greens. I liked them enough that I'd consider trying the younger ones or longer cooking time. Hmm.... I'm thinking slowly braised, then served with a little of my very best balsamic vinegar and maybe some parmesan.

ostwestwind said...

How funny, I sprouted black mustard and now it is getting green. I never eat mustard greens, so I'll try them

Rorie said...

Oh, I love mustard greens and well, all greens in general. I bet they are fabulous in pasta! Must try and soon - great post!

Isil S. said...

We usually make salad with mustard greens, first boil them, then dress them with a sauce consisting of garlic,olive oil, salt and lemon.
I never tried it with pasta before, thanks for the idea.

Riana said...

That looks lovely,yum! The potstckers could use some mustard greens in the next batch. You are right, they are called Gyoza also, so many names, so many dialets. It depends if you are speaking Madarine or Cantonese (one of them I know about ten words), but I can never remember which is which???!!

Now what should I make for dinner? Something with parsley I think...!

That is my choosen herb of the WHB

Melissa CookingDiva said...

Hola Kalyn, I am not missing this WHB! This is the link to my post:

Kate said...

This recipe looks great. I got some mustard greens in my organic produce delivery this week and was trying to figure out how to use them. This looks perfect! Thanks!

Angela said...

What a great idea! I'll bet I could sneak some greens on my nephew with this recipe.

Just a Smidgen said...

I've never seen or cooked with mustard greens.. but I'm sure intrigued now! Your dish looks so yummy!!

Barbara Bakes said...

I need to eat more greens. Glad you updated this one.

Joanne said...

I'm absolutely drooling at the thought of all that lemony deliciousness! And all the kale. Swoon.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I still haven't been able to find that baby kale in my local markets, but more markets are starting to sell good quality chopped kale. When I buy a big bag, I use it more often, and a meatless kale dish like this one is so appealing.

Lauren said...

This looks and sounds wonderful. I'm a big fan of greens with pasta, as well. Also, I'm loving your banner this fall! Love the squashes =)

Farmgirl Susan said...

The new photos are beautiful, Kalyn. This dish sounds so good, especially with all that lemon. And - miracle of miracles - I have a bumper crop of young kale in the garden, a big bag of lemons in the fridge, and a package of macaroni in the pantry. It must be fate! :)

Kalyn Denny said...

Just a Smidgen, this latest version is with baby kale. I found the mustard greens a bit strong.

Barbara, Joanne, Lydia, Lauren, So glad everyone is like this. We absolutely loved the recipe with baby kale.

Farmgirl, it must be fate!

Gina @ Skinnytaste said...

Love it Kalyn! I don't mind an assertive green leafy vegetable.

Kalyn Denny said...

Thanks Gina (me too!)

CJ said...

Oh, this is one of my favorite and very quick to prepare dishes. Sooo good and good for you!
Delicious, filling and budget friendly.
(Sometimes I add cannelini beans to this too).

Kalyn, I love your recipes.

Kalyn Denny said...

CJ, you are so sweet, and I love the sound of beans in this too!

Donna said...

WHAT??? No cheddar cheese? Holy COw! I never knew there was another way to eat macaroni. Must Try. ASAP.

Kalyn Denny said...

Donna, you can add some cheddar if you'd like, lol!

Becky at VintageMixer said...

We're on the same wavelength because I just made a similar light pasta like this but added chickpeas and cauliflower to it as well! Delicious!

Kalyn Denny said...

Becky, that sounds good too!

Annalise said...

Looks like a perfect weeknight meal to me!

Kalyn Denny said...

Thanks Annalise! I could eat this year round and be very happy with it.

Cookin' Canuck said...

I love this healthy take on mac & cheese, Kalyn. Great photo, too!

Kalyn Denny said...

Thanks Dara! I especially appreciate the photo feedback coming from you!

JMCD said...

could i use spinach ?

Kalyn Denny said...

Spinach would probably be good, but it will cook much more quickly than kale.

Bing Roenigk said...

Just made this recipe. LOVE, LOVE, LOve the combination of lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic and kale. Honestly, I think you can double the kale and have the right balance of the recipe's pasta and greens. YUM...

Kalyn Denny said...

So glad you enjoyed it. And I'd say more kale is always good. And for me, more lemon too!

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