This post is not about chocolate silk pie. It’s not about cheesecake, or anything drizzled with caramel. Come on, everyone knows such foods are tasty. My newest food obsession caught me by surprise. I mean, it’s green, and so healthy that it scores a perfect 1000 on the ANDI index. If Popeye knew about kale, he would probably trade spinach in, but then we’d have to compose a whole new theme song. Yes, people. I am presenting kale as a viable substitution for chocolate.
This post is about a food I used to have to eat while the Mister was away. It began with flirtation. I read about a certain Tuscan kale salad Melissa Clark described in her newest cookbook, In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite. For an entire week, I fantasized about her description of the Raw Tuscan Kale Salad with Chiles and Pecorino; “Tangy, spicy, slick with good oil, and crunchy from earthy-flavored kale, it was as pungent and rich as it was fresh and clean tasting, a veritable raw foods epiphany”. Finally, the moment had arrived. The mister and I had deemed the evening “fend for yourself night”. We’d each eat something simple for dinner, either leftovers, or something tossed together with little effort.
I mentioned my dinner plans to the mister; a raw kale salad tossed with whole wheat penne. He wasn’t so sure, so he pulled a leftover something-or-other from the fridge as I put a pot of hot water on the stove to boil. I washed and chopped a big bunch of Dino kale (aka: lacinto or black kale) into strips, popping a piece into my mouth. I was pleasantly surprised–it was a crunchy, less fibrous, less bitter version of its curly-leaved cousin I was used to.
I whisked together the dressing: garlic mashed into a paste with kosher salt, olive oil, lemon juice, pepper, and a pinch of crushed red pepper. My taste buds immediately woke up and did a little dance, as with a good caesar salad dressing. While waiting for the pasta to cook, After tossing the dressing with the kale, I chowed down on half the bowl of salad before tossing the remaining salad with some whole wheat penne. Then, I invited the mister to have a taste. Long story short, I don’t have to get my kale fix while he is away anymore.
- 1 large bunch dino kale (aka black, Tuscan, or Lacinato), rinsed and dried
- 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- ½ cup finely grated parmigiano reggiano, plus additional for garnish (omit to make non-dairy)
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for garnish
- freshly squeezed juice from 2 lemons (plus extra, for garnish)
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 16 ounce package whole wheat or brown rice (gf) penne
- In a large saucepan, bring 5 quarts of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente according to the package directions.
- In the meantime, chop the kale into ½ inch ribbons and put in a large bowl.
- On a cutting board, mince the garlic cloves. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and smash into a paste using a fork or the side of a chefs knife. transfer the garlic paste to a small bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, grated parmigiano, red pepper flakes, the remaining ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, and black pepper to taste. Whisk together until combined.
- Pour the dressing into the large bowl with the kale and toss well until the kale is thoroughly coated.
- When the pasta is finished cooking, drain, and set aside for a minute or so to cool slightly.
- Then, add the pasta to the large bowl with the kale salad, tossing well to combine.
- Garnish individual servings of pasta with an extra squeeze of lemon juice, a light sprinkling of kosher salt, and a few gratings of parmigiano reggiano. Serve warm or at room temperature.