Make Garlicky Greens with Pasta

I love summer. I know we Minnesotans wouldnʼt appreciate it as much if it hung around all year, but I sure wouldnʼt mind. My shoulders are pink. The dog and I run outside without the threat of frostbite on toes and paws. And even though I am intermittently scratching a mosquito bite on my ankle as I type this post, it is a small (albeit itchy) price to pay for blue skies, birdsong, and sunlight.

In my most favorite (and tragically, shortest) season, I want to spend every hour outside. I certainly donʼt want to cook. I donʼt even feel like eating. I could live on iced tea and Bomb Pops (with the occasional Fudgsicle for variety).

Of course, I canʼt really eat those things and fuel my runs. And while I love eating salad in the summer, I do still like the occasional bowl of pasta. This dish is perfect–fifteen to twenty minutes from pantry to table, nutritious, and, of course, delicious. My kids have requested it several times since I first made it, which is always a plus.

Serves 4


  • 1 16 ounce package brown rice penne
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, raw
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound baby greens (kale, spinach, chard)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
  2. As water is coming to a boil, prepare other ingredients: chop garlic, measure seasonings, oil, and nuts.
  3. When water comes to a boil, add pasta and cook until al dente (almost a little bit underdone. The pasta will finish cooking when you bring the dish together, and if you overcook it at this stage, it will become mushy later). Drain and rinse pasta in cold water to stop the cooking process.
  4. As pasta is cooking, in a large, flat-bottomed pan over medium high heat, warm olive oil. Add pine nuts, stirring until they begin to turn a toasty brown. Add garlic. Saute for about a minute, until fragrant. Add red pepper flakes and incorporate. Add baby greens and allow greens to wilt in the heat, flipping with tongs only as necessary to keep garlic and red pepper from burning.
  5. Add pasta to the baby greens, turning to incorporate ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve immediately, sprinkled with nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan.


  • You can use any type of shaped pasta. I use the brown rice penne from Trader Joeʼs, but quinoa or whole wheat pasta would also work well.
  • I use a mix of baby kales and baby spinach (organic, please!) from Costco, but Trader Joeʼs sells an excellent mix called “Power to the Greens.” Whole Foods and some conventional grocers sell Organic Girlʼs “Super Greens.” Of course, farmerʼs markets are my favorite source, especially in the summertime. Using the “baby” version of these greens makes the cooking process very fast.
  • You can also use regular parmesan, of course, if dairy is a part of your diet. But use the real stuff–none of that green can nonsense on these good greens. Itʼs like putting ketchup on steak. Uh-uh.
  • Whatever protein you like can easily be incorporated, although greens have a lot of plant-based protein naturally, and the pine nuts add protein as well.

What is your favorite summer dish?


A mom, friend, cook, runner, most-days vegan and wanna-be yogi, practicing paying attention and falling for my life.

Michele also blogs about healthy eating over at