Pasta people

Apparently, we’re pasta people. I guess we’re kale people, too. And it seems we enjoy an unusual pesto every now and then.

Here’s a great recipe that I haven’t done in a while. Since I was de-ribbing one batch of kale, I figured I might as well do two. (This is a sucky job. Free advice: the bigger the ribs, the easier the de-ribbing, so do yourself a favor and buy some big ol’ wide-ribbed kale. There’s a reason why I like chard better than kale. But the attractive nuisance was practically begging for kale, so obviously I had to grant his request.) A little of this pesto goes a long way, especially with pasta water, so there was a good amount left over for the freezer. I’m sure it freezes well. (I’ll let you know if I’m wrong about that.) Another sucky job is peeling butternut squash. I also seem to mangle my hands. And they were so delicate to begin with… Anyway, it’s all worth it — this is a really tasty dish.

pasta-with-kale-pesto-and-roasted-butternut-squash.jpg

Pasta With Kale Pesto and Roasted Butternut Squash (from the New York Times)

  • 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more for squash
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small bunch (about 1/2 pound) lacinato kale, center ribs removed
  • 8 ounces pasta (penne rigate works well)
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use a vegetable peeler to peel squash, then halve it lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Dice squash flesh into 1-inch pieces, place on a baking sheet, and toss with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Spread pieces into an even layer, making sure there is space between them. Roast, stirring squash pieces once or twice, until golden brown and tender, about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; have ready a bowl of ice water. Drop kale into boiling water and cook for 45 seconds. Use tongs or slotted spoon to transfer kale to ice water. Bring water in pot back to a boil, adding more if necessary so there is enough to cook pasta.

3. Drain kale well, then wrap tightly in a dry kitchen towel and squeeze thoroughly to remove any excess moisture. Roughly chop leaves. When water in pot comes back to a boil, cook pasta according to package directions.

4. In a food processor, pulse together kale, nuts, garlic, salt and lemon zest until mixture is smooth and salt has dissolved. With motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil until fully incorporated. Taste and add more salt dissolved in a little lemon juice, if necessary.

5. Drain pasta, reserving a little cooking water. Toss pasta with kale pesto and some pasta cooking water if necessary to help it coat pasta. Add cheese, lemon juice and salt to taste. Serve topped with squash and more cheese.

Yield: 2 to 3 servings.

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