I can't say that this recipe originally caught my eye for any other reason besides the name. I was flipping thought the January 2009 issue of Food & Wine magazine when I came across this Mario Batali creation. The ingredients were interesting, but I wasn't sure that it would be a keeper for my book. Walnuts and beet greens in pasta?? I was intrigued and decided to give it a shot. That was two years ago and this meal has been in rotation in my house since then. It actually even has its own page in my heirloom recipe book. Yes, the ingredients sound like an odd pairing, but it all works.
Just like most recipes, this lends itself well to certain substitutions. Don't have access to beet greens? Use Swiss chard, kale or collards. If you don't have fresh tomatoes, you could probably use canned, though I've never tried it and the roasted grape tomatoes are really good. What I wouldn't substitute are the goat cheese and walnuts. The creaminess and tanginess of the goat cheese makes a fabulously silky sauce and the walnuts just tie everything together and add a nice crunch. If you choose to substitute the type of pasta, you'll have to rename the dish.;) This is a pretty simple recipe. There are not a lot of ingredients, 7 to be exact. The process is easy and the results are great. What are you waiting for?!
Fusilli Alla Crazy Bastard adapted from Food & Wine Jan '09 recipe by Mario Batali
1/2 cup walnuts 1 pint grape tomatoes 2 Tbs + 1 tsp olive oil 1 pound fusilli (whole wheat is a great option here) 3 cloves garlic, chopped 1/2 lb beet greens, chopped (I've used Swiss chard and collards) pinch red pepper flakes ( or to taste) 1/2 lb goat cheese
Preheat oven to 350.
Toast walnuts on a baking sheet for 7 minutes or until fragrant and golden. You'll start to smell them when they are ready. Remove, cool and coarsely chop.
Raise oven temp to 450. Toss the tomatoes with 1 tsp oil and 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper on a baking sheet (use the same one you cooked the walnuts on). Roast for 10 minutes or until tomatoes have burst.
Cook pasta in well salted boiling water. I've been told that pasta cooking water should taste like the sea so I add quite a bit of salt to my pot. The type of fusilli that I use says 8-10 minutes, and I cook it for 7. You are going to be adding the pasta to the sauce so it will continue to cook and you don't want it to get mushy. When pasta is done, reserve 1 cup of the cooking water before draining. Don't forget!!
While the pasta cooks, heat 2 Tbs olive oil in a large saute pan. Add garlic and cook over medium heat. Keep an eye on it as you don't want to burn it. Once the garlic starts to get fragrant, add in the roasted tomatoes, greens and red pepper flakes. Cook until greens are wilted, about 3 minutes, depending on the type you are using.
DON'T FORGET TO RESERVE THE PASTA WATER!!!!
Add the pasta and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water, into the sauce. Crumble in the goat cheese and stir to melt and combine everything together. Add additional water to loosen up the sauce if you need it.
At this point you can choose to season with additional salt and pepper, though I find if you season the water well you shouldn't need any additional salt. Make sure you taste before adding more seasoning.
Transfer the pasta to individual bowls and sprinkle with the toasted walnuts.
I am a food obsessed mother and wife. Nothing makes me happier than talking about, reading about, growing, cooking and eating GOOD food, either by myself or with others (including my 4 year old food obsessed son, and my 8 month old daughter who is already a foodie). I started this blog to be able to share kitchen and grocery shopping tips, recipes and photos of what is going on in my kitchen. I hope it inspires you to enjoy good food!