Meatless Monday: Orecchiette with kale and breadcrumbs

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BREAKING NEWS: It’s a Meatless, Soupless Monday. For real.

I seem to get into a soup or stew groove easily on Meatless Monday. The Wife, while flipping through the new issue of Bon Appétit, noticed this recipe for kale and my favorite type of pasta: orecchiette. What she didn’t notice was the inclusion of the ugly little fish known as an anchovy.

2013-01-21 at 18-05-36The anchovy gets a bad rap. I would much rather eat an anchovy pizza than, say, a Hawaiian pizza. Pineapple and red sauce are not a good combo. I’m not crazy about cold anchovies (my father loves the little buggers), but when fried, they just break down into salty olive oil. The only problem is that they stink for a little while, which hit The Kid in the nose tonight. Normally, she wants to see me cook and likes to climb up and stir. Tonight, she wanted nothing to do with what was going on.

2013-01-21 at 18-26-27My one complaint about this recipe is the kale specification. Wegmans has kale. You can buy it by the bunch and clean and chop it yourself, or the bagged version that has been cleaned and chopped for you. I lean towards the latter out of convenience. BA has you chasing down Tuscan, or black, kale. Yeah, that’s not a likely find in Syracuse, but even rarer in January.

2013-01-21 at 18-17-11WHAT WORKED: The breadcrumbs. I didn’t have time to stop at the bakery to buy fresh, so I used panko instead. Same basic concept. They add a nice crunch and, by soaking up the liquid in the pan, carry a lot of flavor.

WHAT DIDN’T: Aside from the kale thing, this was pretty good.

WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: “This is good. It’s really salty, but really tasty.”

WILL THIS MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Maybe. It’s a little involved for a Monday night dinner, but you never know.

2013-01-21 at 18-22-59Orecchiette with kale and breadcrumbs
From Bon Appétit

  • 1 lb. Tuscan kale, or other variety (about 2 large bunches), stems trimmed
  • Kosher salt
  • 5 tbsp. olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb. orecchiette (little ear-shaped pasta)
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

Working in batches, cook kale in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, transfer to a rimmed baking sheet; let cool. Set aside pot with water. Squeeze out excess liquid from kale; chop leaves and finely chop stems; set aside.

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Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Add one-third of chopped garlic and cook, stirring often, until breadcrumbs are golden, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; let cool.

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Heat butter and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large heavy pot over medium-low heat. Add anchovies, red pepper flakes, and remaining two-thirds of chopped garlic; cook, mashing anchovies with a spoon, until a paste forms, about 2 minutes. Add reserved kale and 1/2 cup water. Cook, stirring often, until kale is warmed through, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring reserved kale cooking liquid to a boil; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

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Add pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to kale mixture and stir to coat. Increase heat to medium and continue stirring, adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta. Mix in Parmesan and 1/2 cup breadcrumbs; toss to combine. Divide pasta among bowls, drizzle with oil, and top with remaining breadcrumbs.

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