Pasta and greens go beautifully together – the strong, pleasantly bitter flavor of the greens offsetting and balancing the more neutral pasta – and there are dozens of ways to combine the two, most of which also employ a goodly hit of garlic to punch up the flavor. Here are a couple of delicious examples of this genre.


I first ate this at a restaurant in Boston’s North End when I was researching the Italian angle of New England food for my “New England Cookbook” (recently reissued by Harvard Common Press as “New England Home Cooking”). It’s a dish that ends up being quite special, and if you’re serving it for a special dinner, add a sliced tomato salad and a loaf of good Italian bread.

Serves 4 to 6

1 pound penne or other similarly shaped pasta

6 cups (about 1½ pounds) broccoli florets


1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste

½ teaspoon black pepper, plus additional to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon

2 tablespoons butter


3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1½ teaspoons dried oregano

½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta for 8 minutes. Add broccoli florets and cook for another 3 minutes or until pasta is al dente and broccoli is just tender. Scoop out 1 cup of the cooking water and reserve; drain pasta into a colander.

Meanwhile, combine flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Dredge chicken in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess. Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Cook chicken over medium heat until golden brown on both sides and no longer pink in the center, about 7 minutes total. Remove from the skillet, leaving drippings in the pan.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and the butter to the skillet. Add garlic and oregano and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the reserved pasta cooking water and bring to a simmer.


Slice chicken crosswise into half-inch wide slices. Toss pasta and broccoli with the sliced chicken and sauce. Add cheese and toss again. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.


The white beans in this meatless dish absorb the garlicky wine for a flavor boost. Add a salad of halved grape tomatoes tossed with balsamic vinaigrette for a great weeknight supper.

Serves 4

12 ounces fusilli

5 to 6 cups broccoli rabe chopped into 1½-inch lengths


3 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup dry white wine

1 (14 to 16-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta for 7 minutes. Add broccoli rabe and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes until pasta is al dente and broccoli rabe is crisp-tender. Scoop out ¾ cup of pasta cooking water and reserve. Drain pasta into a colander.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring, for 1 minute. Add wine, beans, and reserved pasta water and cook uncovered over medium heat until liquid is reduced by about one-third, about 4 minutes.

Toss pasta and broccoli rabe with the sauce, add cheese and toss again. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Lobster!” (Storey, 2012). She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:


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