Now anyone who has listened to me espouse the virtues of growing and cooking kale, knows that I am nuts about this particular vegetable. First of all, it is insanely easy to grow...just plant the seeds in late winter and as soon as the ground warms a bit, it will take off.
Unfortunately, many people aren't sure how to prepare kale. I suspect it is due to the sense that it should be cooked like a traditional "green". And while kale can be prepared this way, I think it is a very narrow way to think about it. Personally, I like to think of it as the ultimate "sneaky vegetable". Its flavor is so mild that it adapts to almost any recipe. I have used it in pasta dishes, meatloaf, meatballs, shepherd's pie...the possibilities are endless.
Asparagus and Kale Pasta
This dish is a great way to use two seasonal ingredients together. Combine it with a handful of asparagus and a big can of chopped tomatoes and this dish is absolutely full of nutrition.
1 lb ground hamburger
1/2 lb kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
1 12 oz can of diced tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Splash of half and half (optional)
1 tbs fennel seeds, 1 tbsp oregano, 1 tbsp basil, 1 tsp rosemary, 1 tsp thyme, and 2 bay leaves
pinch of red pepper flakes
generous amounts of flaky salt and freshly ground pepper
1 package of conchiglie pasta
Brown hamburger and onions in skillet. Drain some of the excess fat leaving enough to prevent burning, omit draining if meat is lean. Add spices and herbs, salt and pepper, sauté for a few minutes. Add tomatoes and garlic. Let simmer to combine flavors and reduce liquid from tomatoes.
Start a pot of water to boil. Add conchiglie pasta and cook according to directions on package. Conchiglie is also known as shell pasta and is great for this recipe. Since this isn't a really sauce-y pasta dish, the cupped shape of the pasta will grab up the bits of veggies and meat really well. To blanch the kale, add to the boiling pasta for the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain.
In the last couple of minutes of cooking, add half and half and cheese. The Parmesan and half and half create a pink sauce...but you can omit it if you like.Add pasta and kale to sauce. Toss to combine and let stand for a minute or two to allow the pasta to soak up the fantastic flavors. Serve.