So far this summer, I have come to love Wednesdays, even though the last several have been rainy and not-so-fun. Nothing can top last Wednesday, when a tornado hit Bloomington and downed over 500 trees on Indiana University’s campus and more all around town, in addition to damaging numerous buildings and homes. Thankfully, there were no serious injuries. But yet… I still am loving Wednesdays. Why, you might ask? Because Wednesdays is CSA day!
As you might remember, Ben and I joined our first CSA this summer. Every Wednesday after work, I head over to a nearby park and pick up a basket of goodies for the week. We’ve gotten to try a lot of delicious, local, seasonal, just-picked vegetables and herbs, including gorgeous rhubarb [fact: did you know rubarb doesn't have to be bright red to be tasty?], radishes [I've discovered that I love those spicy things], Asian mustard greens, pea shoots, green garlic, chocolate mint, oregano, chervil, and more.
So far, I think my absolute favorite CSA box find has been the baby kale we received during our first pick-up. This kale was tender, tiny, and flavorful. Normal kale leaves are huge and require lots of cutting to be manageable. This kale, on the other hand, was a little bigger than a spinach leaf. Each bite packed an insane amount of peppery flavor with just the right amount of crunch. If you’ve never tried kale, be sure to check it out at your local farmer’s market. Grab a bunch and make this simple Lemony Kale Pasta that I found compliments of Annie’s Eats.
What we loved about this dish–besides the twenty minutes or so of prep time, most of it waiting for the water to boil/for pasta to cook… sigh…–was the sharp contrast of flavors that blended together so well. Meant. to. be. I always think of lemon and olive oil as the perfect pairing for say, marinating chicken with some herbs or spices. And kale is good for my African Peanut Pineapple Stew. But lemon… and kale… with pasta? Really, you jest. It is good though… and it’s not just the cheese that makes it so wonderful! The lightness of the lemon, the richness of olive oil, and the sharpness of kale–plus the cheese… we can’t forget the cheese!–join together with a hearty noodle for a party on your plate.
So what are you waiting for? Go get yourself some kale and try this for yourself!
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- couple dashes of Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated plus more for serving
- 4-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- juice of 2 lemons
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound pasta [i.e. penne]
- 1 large bunch baby kale, rinsed and dried, stems removed
- lemon slices, for garnish
Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Don’t forget to salt the water! Then, start on the dressing. Mix together the garlic and a little bit of salt [original suggested 1/4 teaspoon but I didn't use that much]. Smash garlic with fork or chef’s knife to make a paste. Place paste in a small bowl and add 1/2 cup Parmesan, olive oil [start with about 4 tablespoons and add more later if needed], lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and black pepper to taste. Whisk until combined.
Cook pasta to al dente or your preference. Meanwhile, chop kale into 1/2 inch strips and place in large serving bowl. Pour dressing on top of kale and toss to coat. After pasta is ready, drain and cool for a moment. Then add to kale mixture and toss again to coat. Add additional olive oil to thin dressing if needed. Serve with lemon and Parmesan to taste.