When time is short, the ingredients limited because you cleaned out the fridge in advance of leaving town, and you’re trying to follow the Healthy Is Homemade motto, this dish is the perfect solution.
I usually have several types of raw nuts in the pantry and they are a perfect addition to pasta for protein, healthy fats and to keep you full. The lucky part of the day was being able to harvest the little tender shoots of a potted Tuscan Kale plant that sprouted on the very long stalk I let bolt this spring (in hopes of harvesting seeds, but I lost track of time). I tasted the leaf, preparing myself for some serious bitterness. If you’ve ever grown lettuce and let it bolt, you’ll know what I mean—the once sweet leaves turn incredibly bitter. To my great and delicious surprise, it was sweet and tender, with marvelous kale overtones. I harvested about a cupful and chopped it up with an equal portion of pecans. I had a half cup of grated Parmesan in the fridge. I had 15 minutes. The dish sprang to life.
We ate, did the minimal clean up and headed to the airport happy that we wouldn’t have to resort to the mostly unhealthy food choices available to us.
I will be making this again with fully grown Tuscan kale. You can substitute any sturdy, dark leafy greens, thinly sliced brussel sprouts, cauliflower or broccoli leaves, or even napa cabbage. Spinach is not a good choice here as it wilts away to nothing and gets watery.
RECIPE: Tuscan Kale & Pecan Pasta
4oz dry spaghetti cooked to al dente in salted water
1 cup chopped raw pecans (you can use walnuts or almonds instead)
1 cup chopped Tuscan kale (or any sturdy green)
1/2 cup grated parmegiano regiano
1/3 teaspoon cracked pepper
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup retained pasta water
Boil water, add salt and cook the pasta. While the pasta is cooking,
Heat butter and oil over medium flame. Add the pecans and gently toast.
Add the chopped kale and sauté until gently wilted. About 2 minutes. Add the pepper.
Add the cooked pasta and toss. Add the cheese, 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Toss to combine.
Adjust the seasoning. Remember that the cheese will add salt to the dish, so taste the completed dish before adding any salt.