I recently was looking through my folder of pasta recipes that I’ve collected over the years, and I came across this beautifully handwritten recipe for fusilli with collard greens. As usual, the memoires started flooding back to me. My (non- Italian) friend brought this to me one day in 1990, and said, “I made this last night, and I KNOW you’re going to love it. It’s fabulous! ” She was so excited about it. I remember being somewhat skeptical, but appreciated the time she took to write this out so beautifully for me. Collard greens and pasta? This seemed like a very unlikely combination, but I trusted her. I thought about filing it away for some time in the future, but she was so anxious that I make this recipe, that I knew I’d better do so immediately, for the sake of our friendship. Well, not really. Our friendship was indeed secure, but I was very curious.
I made this dish the very next night, but decided I’d better not tell my family the ingredients. I knew my children would immediately turn up their noses at collard greens. Even as I prepared it, I was still questioning the possibility that this was going to be something we’d like. Surprise…surprise! It was delicious! Everyone loved it, and wanted seconds. We enjoyed it so much that it became a weekly favorite. We couldn’t get enough of it. Then, it stopped. Why? I can’t remember why. It must have been replaced with a new favorite pasta dish.
When I saw it in the folder the other day, it called to me. I had to bring it back, and see if we were still as crazy about it as we were in the 90s. Tastes change. Would we still find it as delicious as we did then? So I invited both my son and daughter for a dinner down memory lane. They remembered it, and how much they used to love it. They still thought it was absolutely delicious, and questioned how I could have forgotten about this recipe for all these years.
Well it’s now back on the “hit list,” and will be a regular in this household again. I hope it will become a favorite in your household as well.
RECIPE: serves 4
1 1/2 lbs collards, coarse stems discarded, leaves washed and chopped coarse
1/4 lb sliced bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces4 large garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 large onion, sliced thin
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes ( optional)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 lb fusilli
1 1/2 TBP red wine vinegar
freshly grated parmigiano cheese
- Boil collards in large pasta pot of water for 10 minutes.
- Scoop collards from the pot with a slotted spoon, saving the water in the pot.
- In a large skillet, cook the bacon until browned, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a small bowl.
- Add 1/2 the olive oil and sauté the garlic, onion and red pepper flakes until the onion is soft and garlic browned.
- Cook fusilli in the collard cooking liquid. Drain well.
- To the skillet, add the collards, bacon, remaining oil and vinegar. Mix well.
- Toss with the fusilli, some freshly ground pepper and serve with the parmigiano cheese.