Tuesday Dinner: Pasta with Bok Choy, Lemon and Goat Cheese

Bok choy is one of those vegetables that I don’t know much about. It’s green, certainly, and looks like a cross between a head of romaine lettuce and a cabbage. It comes from the cruciferous family of vegetables, a family of green leafy veggies that includes broccoli, cabbage, kale and collards. When blanched, I thought it tasted a little like Swiss chard, but otherwise it’s a rather flavor neutral vegetable. It’s pretty inexpensive, too. The head I picked up at Wegmans was 99 cents per pound, and weighed about 12 oz.

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Not unlike collard, turnip or mustard greens, it is best when blanched and sauteed or stir-fried, the latter of which harkening to its use in Asian cooking. Bok choy is a Chinese variety of cabbage (chinensis) closely related to Napa cabbage (pekinensis).

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The Pitiful Dish took on bok choy while adapting a Saveur recipe that we did here back in 2012. I have no recollection and only mediocre photos of the final dish as a memory of that now three-year-old dinner. What I can tell you was that I liked how the mild bok choy worked here. Sometimes the bitterness of the rappi is great, but in a dish with an stronger flavored cheese like a chevre, it’s best not to have a fight for flavor attention.

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WHAT WORKED: I think the bok choy was a winner. And, it’s fun to say.

WHAT DIDN’T: I bought goat cheese crumbles. If I did it again, I would probably by a small log of chevre to mix in. The crumbles seemed a little to dry and not conducive to making a creamy sauce.

EASE OF PREPARATION: Easy. Boiling water is the hardest part.

BEST FOR: Mid-week dinner or when your CSA basket shows up with a head of bok choy.

SERVE WITH: A fork and a spoon. You may find yourself switching between them.

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Pasta with Bok Choy, Lemon and Goat Cheese
  • 1 head of bok choy, stem removed, rinsed under cold water and dried between layers of paper towels
  • kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 lemon
  • 12 oz. shells, mezze rigatoni or other medium-sized pasta
  • 4 oz. goat cheese

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add about 2 tbsp. kosher salt. Using a large knife, chop the bok choy head widthwise into three or four equal-sized parts. Drop the bok choy into the pot and cook 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the greens to a bowl, then transfer to an ice bath to stop the cooking. When the greens are cool, gently squeeze as much water as you can from them and set aside.

Keeping the water boiling, add a liberal amount of salt, followed by the pasta. Cook the pasta per the directions for al dente, about 8 to 9 minutes. Drain.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute. When it is fragrant, add the crushed red pepper and zest from your lemon, stirring to combine and merging the flavors in the pan. Add the bok choy and toss in the oil to coat and warm through, then immediately remove the skillet from heat.

Return the pasta to its cooking pan and set on the stove over medium-high heat. Transfer the contents of the skillet to the pasta and gently combine. Squeeze the lemons over the pot, stirring in the juice. Cook 1 minute, then transfer to your serving bowl. Add the goat cheese and serve hot.

Adapted from The Pitiful Dish

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