Tuscan Kale & Tomato Pasta

Twice in the past few weeks I’ve found myself dining at an upscale Italian restaurant. Completely unintentionally, I ended up with two variations of a delicious dish including wide noodles in a brothy, tomato-y sauce. This is my take on it. It includes tuscan kale; the glamour queen of the leafy greens. Also called lacinato or dinosaur kale (cause it really does look like dinosaur skin), it’s got all the health benefits of other types of kale, but instead of being all crunchy/granola, it’s pretty sexy. For a vegetable anyway. It works really well in this dish because it is hardy enough to cook down and soften for a while in the sauce. This keeps it from being that tough, bitter leaf that keeps people from eating kale.

To make the broth, I used a parmesan rind and a few sprigs of thyme. I recommend tying up the thyme, or putting it in a tea bag, or at least counting the number you throw in – or else you’ll end up serving your guests twigs in their noodles (like me – whoops)! If you haven’t thought ahead by collecting all your spent parmesan rinds in the freezer (by the way – do this from now on) you can just use vegetable stock. I won’t tell.

I used whole wheat fettucini, but you can use whatever noodles you like. I bet some fresh egg noodles would be great, or if you’re gluten-free, sub rice noodles. This is a simple dish, but I did jazz it up with some garnishes. I used toasted breadcrumbs for crunch, then a grating of parm and some more of the thyme. You could try toasted pine nuts and basil, or come up with something even better.

Tuscan Kale & Tomato Pasta

1 lb. noodles (I used whole wheat fettucini)
1 T. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 large or 2 small parmesan rinds
4-5 thyme sprigs
1 bunch of tuscan kale, roughly chopped
to garnish: toasted breadcrumbs, grated parmigiano reggiano, chopped fresh thyme

Bring a pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or pot over medium low. Add the garlic and salt, and cook for 1-2 minutes. Tip in the tomatoes and 3 c. of water, then the rind and thyme. Cover, bring to a boil, then turn to low, simmering for about 10 minutes. Add the kale and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, until the kale is quite tender. I used this time to toast my breadcrumbs in a little butter in a small skillet. Don’t forget to fish out the rind and thyme sprigs when it’s done.

To serve, place pasta in a shallow bowl and ladle the sauce over. Top with breadcrumbs, cheese and thyme.

serves 4-6

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