Monday, August 15, 2011

Tomato, Kale, Onion, Garlic, Pesto Penne Pasta

Since we started with our Roots and Shoots Farm CSA food basket at the beginning of July, we have created a pasta dish that has become our 'go to' meatless, veggie creation for the summer. We have made it 4 or 5 times so far. We have also shared it with guests. The biggest wow from the reviews seems to be that people have been pleased to enjoy consuming kale this way.

Very veggie focused cooks feel very comfortable with creating kale variety on the plate, but there is a population that is only just enjoying the 'idea' of eating kale, knowing that it is so healthy for us, but not sure how to prepare it.

I love to load up the dish with onions and garlic because, well, because sautéed onions and garlic just tastes so good. It isn't a surprise that there are chili flakes. The teenager goes for spicy at any turn and has made a convert out of me. I am the tomato fan. All this becomes the vessel for hiding the good stuff - the kale.

The pesto showed up on the second attempt at this dish since I had a small bit I wanted to 'move along' and now it is officially in the recipe.

On the third go, we figured out that a bit of the parmigiano-reggiano cheese actually incorporated right in the dish proved to, literally, be the glue to hold it all together.

The onion, garlic, chili flakes and pesto really give this dish big flavour. I nice balance to the tomatoes, kale and pasta.

I noticed in this week's Roots and Shoots newsletter that they have a similar tasty pasta dish they call Summer Pasta. Zucchini is a big star in their dish and they do a bit of a carbonara twist by adding egg. Sound good? You should check it out.

Have you made any new dishes this summer with your fresh food bounty? I would love to hear about your magic.

[From Roots and Shoots Farm: Red Russian Kale, Tomatoes, Onion, Garlic, Pesto was made with their garlic]

Tomato, Kale, Onion, Garlic, Pesto Penne Pasta
Serves 3

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 spring onions, diced (include healthy parts of the greens)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon chili flakes
1 pint of heirloom tomatoes
1 bunch of Russian red kale
1/2 teaspoon salt
150 grams penne pasta (my favourite dry pasta brand is Barilla)
1/4 cup pesto
1 cup of parmigiano-reggiano, grated

Prepare the ingredients. Dice the spring onions. Keep the whites separate from the greens. Mince the garlic. Chop the tomatoes. Remove the stems from the kale. Rough chop the kale leaves. Grate the cheese.

Prepare the penne pasta until el dante. When it is drained, return to the pot and keep the lid on to keep it warm until the sauce is done.

Heat oil in a fry pan. Sauté the white parts of the onion until soft. Add the minced garlic, chili flakes and green parts of the onion. Continue to sauté until the greens of the onion start to soften. Not too long.

Add the tomatoes. When the tomatoes have warmed, add the chopped kale. Sprinkle with salt. Add a bit of water to the pan to help steam the kale if there does not appear to be much liquid from the tomatoes.

When the kale has just wilted and cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Make sure you do not over cook the kale. The kale should be limp but still be a bright green.

Put the pesto on the pasta and stir to cover. Add the vegetable sauce to the pasta and stir. Add 1/2 cup or more of the parmigiano-reggiano to the pot and stir.

Serve in warmed pasta bowls. Sprinkle with parmigiano-reggiano.

Dig in! Chew each mouthful 20 to 30 times before swallowing. Take a rest half way through eating your portion. All this will help you to stretch out the deliciousness of this wonderful meatless dish.

TIP: I often boil up the the full box of penne, use what I need, and then put the remainder in the freezer in appropriate portions. It easy to reheat but dropping it into boiling water for just a minute or two. Just enough to heat it through.

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