The start of the CSA has been amazing this year, and one of the reasons is the mizuna! Mizuna is an Asian green that is mild tasting and very easy to work with. You’ve probably seen it in baby salad mixes, but we grow big leaves of it. It has feathery edges and can be enjoyed raw or cooked, the stems are also edible. This is a fairly unconventional use of mizuna, but our friend Emma recently said “if you have pasta, olive oil, and garlic you have dinner” I couldn’t agree more!
This dish requires a few pans, but little effort. I added a lemony breadcrumb for some crunch. Originally I planned on adding cheese, but this simple dish really didn’t need it. However, if you sprinkled some parm on top I wouldn’t blame you! I always freeze leftover bauguette and ends of bread for fresh breadcrumbs. If you don’t want to make breadcrumbs use panko, or a good quality store bought. Gluten free people, don’t have to shy away from this dish! I recommend brown rice spaghetti and fresh breadcrumbs made with Udi’s gluten free bread. The ingredients come together quickly while the pasta boils, you’ll even have time to wash the extra pan while you wait!
Did you know the real secret to a great pasta dish is the pasta water? The starch in the pasta water helps “marry” the sauce and pasta together. Even though we’re not using a traditional sauce, the reserved pasta water helps combine the vegetables, pasta, and garlic. Toss with the toasty breadcrumbs and serve.
Lemon Mizuna Pasta
8 oz spaghetti
1 bunch mizuna
3 garlic cloves, minced (or more if you prefer)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus more for finishing
salt and pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Don’t skimp on salt here, it flavors the pasta while cooking. Add the spaghetti and cook al dente according to package directions.
While the spaghetti is cooking, chop the bottom of the mizuna stems off and thoroughly rinse. I left the leaves whole, because they are about the same length as the spaghetti. Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the mizuna and lemon juice with a pinch of salt. Cook until the mizuna is wilted, about 5 minutes stirring frequently. Turn off the heat and leave the mizuna in the pan for finishing.
Toast the breadcrumbs. Heat the remaining olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and toast until crisp and fragrant, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest, season with salt and lots of black pepper.
When the pasta is ready, ladle 1/2 cup of the cooking water into the skillet with the mizuna. Drain the noodles then add to the mizuna pan, and turn the heat on low. Toss pasta and vegetables together until combined, turn off the heat and add the breadcrumbs. Season with salt and extra lemon juice to taste. Serve at once.