Let me explain. I was pregnant for the third time the summer of 2011. Maybe I felt that between the job, two kids, and a husband who likes to leave his dirty socks and towels on the floor I needed a little more work. So I ordered a CSA box. No clue what that is? Click here.
“Lovely”, “Fresh veggies!”, “All summer long!”….you may think all of these things, and you would be severely misled. The people who can handle the onslaught of a CSA box for 22 straight weeks either have 1) an army of angry vegan men at home who demand a sustainably-grown dinner every night, 2) several hours (times ten) of free time to lovingly wash, prep, store and cook a large box of dirt-caked vegetables every week, or 3) an insane desire to make truckloads of vegetarian lasagna.
I was shoehorned into the third category, but not by choice. It was the only meal I could make on a mass-produced scale to use up the mountain of chard and kale that landed on my doorstep every Tuesday. It was like whack-a-mole meets Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.
Before I start to sound ungrateful, let me concede that it was one of the more satisfying projects I’ve ever undertaken in the kitchen. But I was totally overwhelmed. Maybe it was that I was too accustomed to Whole Foods sanitizing my veggies with a firehose before they land on the shelves. Or that I just had too much going on at work. Or that I GAVE BIRTH that summer and could have used a little less time on my feet. Like someone who pigs out on pizza and can never hear the word again, I thought my relationship with kale was forever doomed.
But who was I kidding? Because kale is life changing, perfection, despite having to dig those little green bits out of your teeth afterwards. There is a reason that the Chicago Sun Times recently reported that “kale is the new bacon.” And can’t we all agree that everyone loves bacon? Even if you say you don’t, we know you’re lying.
Not only is kale a superfood, packed with antioxidants, including 206% the recommended daily dose of vitamin A, but it also tastes great and can be used in just about any recipe you can dream up.
Like this lemony and light weeknight pasta, which takes nothing more than dressing your kale like a salad, tossing in some pasta, and adding a fistful of shaved pecorino. I’d better watch out – if kale makes it too easy on me I might spring for that CSA box again.
- 1 bunch curly kale, washed and dried
- 1.5 teaspoons of salt, plus more for salting the pasta water
- Pinch of red pepper flakes, omitting if your kids are eating it
- Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2-3 Tablespoons of fresh-squeezed lemon juice or to taste
- 1 lb spaghetti
- ¼ cup pecorino, finely shredded (I like to use a microplane)
- Take the ribs out of your curly kale, take the ribs out, and then finely shred (I just cut them horizontally to make thin strips).
- Add the kale to a bowl and add the 1 teaspoon of salt (don’t salt too much here as the pecorino is salty, and you can always add more later), black pepper, olive oil and lemon juice, and red pepper flakes.
- Toss the kale with the dressing and put it off to the side while you cook your pasta. Letting it sit for a while in the vinaigrette will help it soften a little.
- While your kale is softening, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Make sure your water is salty like the sea!
- When boiling, add your spaghetti and cook according to the box directions until it’s done (generally few minutes).
- When pasta is done, reserve a cup of the cooking water, and then drain the pasta.
- Add the pasta to the bowl with the kale, and toss together.
- To moisten, add some of the pasta cooking water to the pasta, a few tablespoons at a time.
- Add most of your shredded cheese to the dish, and toss.
- Add the rest of the cheese to the top and serve.