Meatless Monday: Lemon Pasta with Kale and Goat Cheese

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Around here at Al Dente HQ, kale usually comes in the traditional curly form. It’s the most widely-found variety of the veggie at farmer’s markets and grocery stores, and usually the cheapest and easiest to work with. I’ve seen the red variety at the market before, but never ventured in that direction.

This week, I picked up a bag of Tuscan kale, known also as Lacinato or Dinosaur kale. From One Green Planet:

Lacinato Kale (also known as Dinosaur) is a kale variety that features dark blue-green leaves with a slightly wrinkled and firm texture. The hearty leaves of Dino Kale are tall and narrow and retains its firm texture even after it has been cooked. It has a slightly sweeter and more delicate taste than the curly kind with its flavor described as deep and earthy, but not so bitter with an almost nutty sweetness.

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So, the flavor was perfect for this dish. The texture? Mmmmyeah, not so much. Curly kale would have worked better as the Tuscan variety needs to be cooked down significantly to tenderize, a luxury not afforded by this recipe.

There’s a place for Tuscan kale. We’ll have to figure out where that is.

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WHAT WORKED: I love goat cheese and it really does a nice job of binding the flavors and ingredients together.

WHAT DIDN’T: Tuscan kale, as evidenced by…

WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: “These stems are tough.”

WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: With curly kale, yes.

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Goat Cheese Lemon Pasta with Kale
Adapted lightly from the original at Two Peas and Their Pod

  • 1 lb. farfalle pasta
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced
  • Dash of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 
One head of curly green kale (not Tuscan), washed thoroughly, and chopped coarsely
  • 5 oz. goat cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring to boil a large pot of water. Add a liberal amount of kosher salt and cook the pasta per the manufacturer’s directions (Barilla farfalle takes 11 to 12 minutes to reach al dente).

In the meantime, add olive oil to a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the garlic and shallot. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until softened. Add crushed red pepper and the kale. Stir in the kale, adding it in bunches to make room. Add the lemon juice and zest, stirring to combine. Use a large ladle to scoop some of the pasta cooking water and pour it over the kale. Stir occasionally to help the kale leaves wilt.

Drain the pasta thoroughly and transfer to serving bowl. Crumble goat cheese over the top and toss with a spoon. Add the kale and toss again. Serve hot.

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