Eat your Greens, But Make it Pasta: Kale Pasta
I had seen photos and videos of a vibrant and rich green pasta too many times before I finally found myself knee deep in kale and ready to make this. Kale is really not my favourite so I was skeptical. But, I was pleasantly surprised when this not only looked beautiful, but tasted bright and wonderful and not at all like a kale salad.
A few recipes I looked at used pistachios (including the Bon Appetit Kale Pesto Pasta) which I thought would be great and play up the green, but I didn't have any of those. With only peanuts in the pantry I turned to seeds which certainly would work a lot better. Going with green, I chose hemp to add that richer texture without overpowering the flavour.
I like a long pasta here but even a rigatoni will work; rigatoni always works. The sauce is quite strongly and earthy in flavour, so a whole wheat or spelt pasta will work if you'd like. I personally really don't enjoy whole wheat pasta, but understand that some do. As far as whole grain pastas go, I do prefer spelt. Truly, I don't eat any of these at home anyways, we're loyal to Rummo Gluten Free (celiac husband = celiac life).
basically a dinner appropriate green smoothie
Here's how it went down:
1 lb spaghetti
1 bunch kale, ribs removed, washed *note I like to freeze the stems and save them for smoothies
1/4 cup hemp seeds
2 tbsp nutritional yeast *optional, and if you're dairy free use more while eliminating the cheese
2 large garlic cloves, grated
1/3 cup parm or pecorino (I feel a combination of the 2 might be perfect, pecorino alone might be too strong), plus more to grate on top
about 3-4 tbsp olive oil
juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, blanche the kale for 3-4 minutes. It should be bright green, toothsome but not quite kale salad level tough.
Remove the kale from the water with tongs and place it directly into a high powered blender. Give the kale a good shake to release some of the extra water, though you do want some of it to facilitate blending. Do not drain that boiling water- save it to cook your pasta.
Bring the water back to a boil and add the pasta. Cook according to package instructions. I generally recommend cooking about 1 minute less than the package recommends and tasting it. Many brands over estimate how long it really takes to cook. You want it to be a nice al dente. It will cook a bit more in the sauce afterwards, so you can cook it about a minute under where you ultimately want it.
To the blender, add the hemp seeds, nutritional yeast, garlic, cheese, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, and a few good cranks of black pepper. Blend on high until everything is combined well and the mixture is a smooth bright green. Add some more oil or water (from the pot) to thin if necessary. The sauce should be thick like the type of smoothie you need to eat with a spoon, but not as thick as ice cream. You don't want to see any little specks of the kale.
When the pasta is done to your liking, remove about 1-2 cups pasta water and set it aside in a bowl. Drain the pasta then return it to the pot. Add the kale sauce (use a spatula and get it all out of that blender!) and about 1/4- 1/2 cup pasta water and mix it together over low heat. Stir it well, it should start to emulsify. Add more water if you need to thin it out. Keep the heat low, you don't want to overcook it and risk losing that bright green colour. This should ultimately take about 2 minutes.
Serve with more grated parmigiano or pecorino. I do think a dollop of ricotta would be really perfect here, so I encourage that.
Enjoy this much better version of a kale salad that's very much still a whole lot of kale!