Kale has shot to superstardom in the vegetable world in a relatively short period of time.
Once often forgotten and tucked between other greens in produce counters, kale is now centre-stage and making its way into smoothies, soups and all kinds of other great dishes. It belongs to the Brassica family, that includes cabbage, broccoli, collards and Brussels sprouts. In addition to the green variety, there is also red kale available.
Kale deserves all the attention. It is low in calories, high in vitamins A, C and K and a good source of calcium. That it's so very versatile also helps.
I've been making kale and whole wheat pasta dishes since I discovered Alice Water's wonderful recipe from her cookbook In The Green Kitchen (Clarkson Potter, 2010).
My variation this weekend includes specialty mushrooms and oven roasted tomatoes.
This great vegetarian dish is one that has quickly become one of my personal favourites.
Pasta with Kale, Mushrooms and Oven-Roasted Tomatoes
6 Tbsp. (75 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced
4 cups (1L) of trimmed, and sliced specialty mushrooms (oyster, shiitake, cremini)
2 large cloves garlic, sliced
1 lb. (500 g) whole wheat pasta
1 large bunch of kale, washed, tough stems removed and chopped
1/4 tsp. (1 ml) red pepper flakes
1/3 c. (75 ml) grated Parmesan cheese
Oven-roasted tomatoes (recipe follows)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
While the water is coming to a boil, heat the olive oil over medium-high in a large sauté pan or a wok. Add the onion and cook until soft.
Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms just start to give off their liquid. Add the garlic and continue to cook for a further two minutes.
When the water is at a rapid boil, add a heaping tablespoon of salt. Add he pasta. Cook, stirring occasionally until al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, add the kale to the sauté pan with the mushrooms and cook until wilted but still bright green. Stir in the red pepper flakes. Season with salt to taste.
When the pasta is cooked, hold back 1 cup (250 ml) of the pasta water.
Drain the pasta. Add to the sauté pan or wok with the mushroom/kale mixture. Toss well. If the mixture seems dry, add some of the reserved pasta water and toss again.
Transfer to a pasta bowl. Sprinkle with the cheese. Top with the tomatoes and serve. Serves six.
2 cups (500 ml) of grape tomatoes, washed
1 tbsp. (15 ml) olive oil
1/4 (1 ml) tsp. salt.
Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 400F (200C).
Place the tomatoes in a bowl with the olive oil and salt. Toss.
Transfer to a parchment-lined small baking sheet.
Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes until soft and starting to caramelize and collapse.