If there is one thing that joining a CSA has taught me about my culinary skills is that I am not well versed in cooking greens. Aside from the usual lettuce and spinach, I never really ate greens of any type growing up. No mustard greens, collard greens, or kale to speak of. In recent years I have had kale and mustard greens a time or two, but that’s about it. That’s why I was so excited about how one of my latest pasta dishes turned out.
It all started the night before our CSA pickup where I decided I had to use up some mustard greens, garlic, and lemon thyme that had been hanging around our fridge for the past six days. It was seriously getting ridiculous, so I just threw together a marinade for some chicken, closed my eyes and said a prayer, hoping for the best. You know how some combos are really, really bad? Well, this one was anything but.
My impromptu Tangy Chicken Pasta incorporates a double dose of lemon in fresh lemon thyme and lemon juice, as well as spicy black pepper, sweet garlic, and rich olive oil in the marinade. As the chicken cooked, I steamed the distinctively unique peppery mustard greens and cooked up a batch of noodles to serve as the vehicle for my tangy feast. At the end, I tossed in some broccoli florets as the pasta cooked to bump up the veggie content and mixed everything together with a pseudo lemon-balsamic reduction glaze.
The results? Incredible levels of flavor and depth. For best results, make and serve the same day, but if there are leftovers be sure to add some extra lemon-balsamic glaze to make the flavors pop once more. Enjoy!
Tangy Chicken Pasta
- 1 pound chicken breasts, chopped into 1-inch cubes
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup loosely packed fresh lemon thyme, roughly chopped + more for garnishing
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups loosely packed mustard greens, stems removed and roughly chopped
- 5 cups broccoli florets
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 pound small noodles, uncooked [I used mini farfarelle]
Whisk together 1/3 cup lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, lemon thyme, and black pepper in a small bowl or ziploc bag. Place [raw] chicken in mixture, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30-60 minutes and no more than 24 hours to marinate.
When ready to prepare, bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.
Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Pour chicken and marinade into skillet and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until each piece is cooked through. You could add additional olive oil, but I found it unnecessary due to the marinade. When chicken is cooked, remove to a large bowl, reserving liquid in pan.
While the chicken is cooking, set a third [yes, I know!] pot on the stovetop and fill with several inches of water and a steamer insert. Add mustard greens, cover, and heat to medium. Steam mustard greens until just tender. Remove from heat and spoon out into the bowl with the chicken.
After mustard greens are in the pot, turn back to the pasta water–it should be boiling by now. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. But… one minute before pasta should be done, add the broccoli to the water and blanch. Immediately remove from heat and drain well, then add to mustard greens and chicken. Toss well.
Lastly, pour 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar into the skillet where the chicken cooked. Over medium heat, stir constantly, scraping the sides and bottom of the pan. When mixture has thickened, remove from heat and pour over pasta mixture and toss to coat. Garnish with additional lemon thyme leaves and serve immediately. Enjoy!