The gardening season is upon us. From here on out, as much as I can, I’ll be incorporating what I grow in the back yard in my recipes. This is an extremely exciting time of the year for me because every morning, I get to walk outside to see how much our crop has grown overnight and even more importantly, I spend less at the grocery store. You’d be surprised at how much produce Laura and I purchase every week – our shopping cart is probably more than half full of items just from that one aisle.
Two ingredients are featured in today’s recipe. One is kale, which I grew in a raised bed over the past few weeks, and the other is lemon, which, unfortunately, I didn’t grow. I live in Maine and even though it’s possible to keep lemon trees alive indoors, it’s not a very popular one for outdoors. Since we arrived in this state, we’ve experienced -23 degree temperatures. Not good for lemons at all.
I’d have to describe this recipe as one best suited for summer. It’s fresh, light and airy. It uses relatively few ingredients and it’s simple to prepare. All in all, I think I like it.
The amount of kale used in this recipe depends on you. You certainly could get away with half of what’s recommended, or you could double up, if you’re like me – someone who loves kale. Since it’s cooked in boiling water, it reduces in volume. The huge pile of kale you start off with becomes manageable very quickly.
I’d also advise cooking the pasta on the al dente side. I got lucky last night and pulled the pasta out of the water at just the right moment and I have to say, it was wonderful. Even if I stopped it from cooking a minute sooner, I still think it would have been fine because of all the olive oil in this recipe. Pasta continues to cook after it’s out of the pot, so absorbing some oil wouldn’t have been a bad thing.
If you’re a lover of the lemon, feel free to apply it liberally in this recipe. The instructions call for two tablespoons of juice, but I see no issue with adding three. Also, if you have the lemons, zest away. There’s enough pasta and kale to compensate for any additional flavor.
I’d like to thank Curtis Stone and his cookbook What’s For Dinner? for this recipe. It’s another one of his awesome creations (with a twist or two of my own). I recently discovered that Curtis offers a few additional cookbooks, so I’ll be on the lookout for those. When it comes to cooking and having an imagination about food, that man rocks.
1 Pound Kale, Sliced Thin
1 Pound Spaghetti
3/4 Cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
5 Teaspoons Garlic, Minced
Zest From 2 Lemons
Ground Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
3 Ounces Romano Cheese, Grated
Don’t limit yourself to Romano cheese. If you prefer Parmesan, go for that. Whatever strikes your fancy.
Cook the Kale
In a large pot, add 4 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat.
When the water is boiling, add the sliced fresh kale to it.
Let the kale cook for about 5 minutes and then remove it with a slotted spoon or a sieve. The goal here is to remove the kale, but leave the water in the pot. Place the cooked kale in a bowl for later use.
Cook the Pasta
If the water in the pot isn’t still boiling, bring it back to a boil and add the pasta. Let the pasta cook between 7-10 minutes, stirring and tasting it often. The minute it becomes tender and doesn’t stick to your teeth, remove it from the heat and strain it in a colander. Before you do that though, reserve about a cup of the flavored pasta water. You may need it later on, depending on the consistency of the final dish.
Heat Skillet & Combine Ingredients
Warm a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s to temperature, add about 1/2 cup of the extra-virgin olive oil. Then, add the 5 teaspoons of minced garlic and let cook for about one minute. Don’t cook so much as to allow the garlic to change color. All you want to do is open it up so it begins to smell good.
After that, add the kale to the pan and stir all the ingredients together well.
When mixed, add in the lemon zest.
Stir in the lemon zest as well. This is what things should look like at this point:
When those ingredients are well coated with the olive oil, go ahead and add the spaghetti to the skillet. Also add in the remaining oil, the lemon juice and the Romano cheese. Again, mix well so all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
At this point, you can season to taste with salt and pepper. The reason I waited until the very end for this step is because you need to know what the combined ingredients taste like first. Even though it would have been simpler to season earlier on, you wouldn’t really know what you were seasoning. So, season, stir and taste. Then repeat.
Plate & Serve
It’s time to plate and serve. Divide the spaghetti and kale mixture between 4 large bowls, add some more grated Romano cheese to the top of the pasta and serve.
The Final Dish
Here is a photo of the final dish in a bowl. The olive oil really adds some color to the pasta. If you’ve got good oil, this should be a treat. Enjoy!
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