Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I’m on a major kale kick lately, so I finally got up the gumption to try this recipe from Jack Bishop’s Pasta e Verdura. It’s one of my favorite cookbooks of all time (now shamefully out of print?)—and the source of at least half my cherished pasta dishes—so you wouldn’t think I’d be so reluctant to give this recipe a shot, but (a) there have been a few duds among all the gems in it; and (b) I tried a different kale pasta in December and wasn’t particularly thrilled by it, even though it came well recommended...which made me fear that I don’t really like kale quite as much as I think I do, like maybe I’m some sort of kale dilettante who likes it roasted or mixed with a bunch of other things but can’t handle the strong stuff straight up.

Luckily, I loved this. It’s exactly what it sounds like—crispy, garlicky, herby golden nuggets of potato tossed with tender, lemony kale over spaghetti. I devoured nearly all the leftovers myself (I think A only managed to snag one serving) and wouldn’t mind making it again right now. I did, belatedly, realize that it’s pretty much just a wintry version of a recipe I already have, only with spaghetti instead of penne and kale instead of arugula, but I think I actually like this one more; it seems to gel better somehow. The only thing I’d change from the original recipe? Saving some of the pasta water to loosen up the final dish—I almost did, but then figured I’d trust the all-knowing Bishop, and then sadly my results were on the dry side (although obviously still thoroughly edible). Also, be sure to use plenty of salt, or this may seem on the bland side at first bite (but trust me, it really isn’t). Now go forth and eat kale!

1 pound small red potatoes
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon salt, plus extra to taste
1 pound kale (about 2 large bunches)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound pasta
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Scrub the potatoes under cold running water, but do not peel them. Cut the potatoes into ½-inch chunks. Place in a baking dish large enough to hold them in a single layer (I used a 9x12 Pyrex). In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons oil with the garlic, rosemary, and 1 teaspoon salt. Drizzle the oil mixture over the potatoes, toss well, and spread back out in a single layer. Bake until potatoes are crisp and golden brown, about 40 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, bring several quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Remove the tough center stems from the kale and discard (I find that folding them in half and slicing it off works best). Wash the kale leaves well in a colander or (if they seem particularly sandy) in a large bowl of cold water. Slice the damp leaves crosswise into ½-inch-wide strips. Add the kale and salt to taste to the boiling water. Cook until kale is tender but not mushy, about 4–6 minutes. Drain the kale and toss it in a large bowl with 2 tablespoons oil, the lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.

4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Add the pasta and cook until al dente; drain (you may want to reserve a bit of the pasta water).

5. Add the roasted potatoes (along with any garlic and rosemary that can be scraped from the baking dish) to the bowl with the kale. Mix well, then add the hot pasta, the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well (if you have reserved pasta water, add some if the pasta looks dry). Serve sprinkled with Parmesan.

Serves: 6
Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Leftover potential: High

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