Look up mizuna recipes, and, as with the rapini we talked about a few days ago, you’ll find there are precious few recipes. We just don’t get it. It seems as though no one is willing to try something new with greens. Well, we are, and we’re sure that some of you dedicated scratchers are willing to join in on the fun. But, before we do, it might help to knowthat mizuna is an Asian variety of mustard green. Not as peppery as mustard greens, but it still has a slight bite. And, like a lot of greens, it can have a slightly bitter aftertaste.
With this in mind (and seeing an unrelated recipe with beans, snap peas, orange, and hazelnuts in Ottolenghi, by Yotum Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi), we thought that we’d pair our mizuna with something acid, like grapefruit. In the above-mentioned recipe, we read that oranges and hazelnuts are always a great pairing, so we thought “oranges are pretty similar to grapefruit; hazelnuts it is.” Finally, we wanted something more substantial, and something hot, so we added the pasta and kept the dish hot. Let’s see how it rolls.
We had this for lunch one day, so we wanted it to be easy. Pretty much as easy as boiling up some pasta. Because of that, there are only a few ingredients; however, you can still switch them up. Use another type of greens, or oranges instead of grapefruit; we also think this would be very good with pecans in place of the hazelnuts. As with all recipes, this isn’t set in stone, so play with it and make it your recipe.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 200°F. Place heat-proof bowls in the oven to warm. We like to do this — and you should, too; it’s easy and it makes a real difference — so the pasta stays warmer while you eat it. In this recipe, it helps a lot, since the grapefruit is cold when it’s added to the pasta.
Toast hazelnuts. This will do two things: remove the bitter skins and toast the nuts, bringing out additional flavor. Place the hazelnuts in a small skillet over medium heat and toast until the skins split and crack and the nuts are starting to brown slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, then carefully — the nuts are hot — rub the skins off the nuts. Chop roughly and set aside.
Segment grapefruit. Probably the easiest way to segment a grapefruit is to cut off the top and bottom, then use a knife to cut away the peel. Now use your knife to cut out each segment over a bowl (to catch the juice). Once you’ve removed the segments, give the remaining grapefruit a squeeze to extract a bit more juice. Pick through the segments and remove the seeds. Set aside.
Boil pasta. Bring a large kettle of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions. Watching that time, and testing the pasta as you go along, wait until there is about one more minute before the pasta is perfectly cooked, then ….
Add greens. Stir the mizuna greens into the boiling pasta and let boil/simmer for a minute. The pasta should now be perfect and the greens should be cooked, so ….
Drain and plate. Drain the pasta and greens in a colander. Immediately transfer to the warmed bowls, and sprinkle with salt and pepper followed by the grapefruit segments and juice. Finish by sprinkling the toasted hazelnuts on top. Serve immediately.
If your greens taste slightly bitter — ours did — try adding just a bit more salt; it’ll eliminate some of the bitterness. We really liked this dish. It’s not the standard sautéed greens by any means, and you might not think of grapefruit as part of a hot dish (although we bet that many people reading this have had broiled grapefruit with brown sugar, and that’s pretty good), but it works. The segments are small enough to warm all the way through from the heat of the pasta, and the juice gets warmed by the heat from the warmed bowls. Overall, for a scratchin’ original, four stars.