Earlier this week I got together with my cousin, and since we’ve both been really into kale lately, we decided to make a pasta centered around it. Kale is both delicious and a superfood- its easy to substitute in for other leafy greens and is packed with lots more nutrients. We decided to pair the kale with onions, capsicum, cannellini beans and eggplant.
We left the tomatoes in the oven until their skins were splitting apart and starting to bubble and blacken. The blackened skins especially add to the roasted flavours, and when we removed the tomatoes, they were literally bursting from their skins.
Next we put the four tomatoes, as well as a clove of roasted garlic, into a handheld blender, and swilled it around until we had a lovely pinky-orange sauce that was smooth, but still thicker than something like tomato soup.
While all of this simmered away, we began on the accompanying salad. We decided to just do a simple salad of spinach, raspberries, pine nuts and caramelized onions. After toasting the pine nuts we combined them with equal parts balsamic vinegar and EVOO, with a generous amount of pepper, and let them sit for a while to absorb the flavour.
Meanwhile my cousin coarsely chopped up the kale, taking care to leave the stems on- even though some people complain that they are bitter, a lot of the nutrients are housed in the stems, which makes them a vital component for any meal. Next we boiled up some spelt penne for the pasta. Spelt has a very rich, nutty flavour, and has four times the amount of protein as wheat pasta. Due to its grainier texture, it takes a while longer to boil, so be sure to check the pasta before taking it off the stove.
The sauce took on a beautiful colour due to the combination of the deep red wine and the pinky tomatoes. While all of this bubbled away, we quickly tossed up the salad, adding onions that we caramelized earlier as a nice change in texture. We were going to add goat cheese, but decided to keep the meal simple, healthy and vegan instead. The raspberries unfortunately lost most of their shape when tossed through the salad, and opted to become part of the dressing instead of the salad, but we really enjoyed how their tartness permeated every bite.
By this point my cousin had added the capsicum, beans and pasta to the sauce, stirring it all to make sure everything was mixed through properly. We added a large dash of salt, and then threw in the kale. Kale doesn’t need too long to cook- we only gave it a few minutes in the pot to wilt.
Finally everything was ready, and we sat down with a store made baguette and a bottle of red wine, which was the perfect accompaniment to the meal. The pasta was delicious- even though we had kind of haphazardly thrown together the recipe, everything was well-balanced, and by the end of it there was nothing we wished we had added or subtracted, which is always a good sign! I’m planning on posted more kale-based dishes soon, and this healthy, simple pasta is a great introduction for anyone who is looking to add the superfood to their diet.