Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Kale Pesto Pasta with Peas

One of my new favourite cookbook authors is not a trained chef but a celebrity.

I should state, I am not usually a celebrity follower. In fact, I am especially not a follower when it comes to "celebrity recipes" because they usually suck. Strong wording. Perhaps I should say that they are devoid of fat, salt, and all the good things that give flavour because they are on a diet. I feel sorry for them really, they need new recipes.

Although I usually fail miserably at the new Head's Up Game App when it comes to "Superstars" and "Icons, Legends & Stars", I do know this girl.

Gwyneth Paltrow. You may have heard of her?

The weird thing is, she is not like the others, I really love her style of cooking. Most of her recipes are how we eat at home- mostly vegetarian and sometimes some poultry for those who choose to roll that way.

Lately her recipe for Cavolo Nero Pesto is getting lots of play at our house. I've actually had 3 out of 3 kids in my house thank me for this dinner. Actually thank me. Even the two year old. That's big. And it is amazingly simple, nutritious and delicious.

Cavolo Nero is just a fancy Euro word for a type of kale that is slender and dark, also known as Black Kale, Lacinto Kale or Dinosaur Kale. You could use any kale or even broccoli in this recipe though.

(Note: The Head's Up game is super fun and I recommend it for parties. Don't ask me to name any movies Gwyneth has been in; however, I could recall at least 10 of her recipes that I love. Don't ever play the game with me unless you know this.)

Kale Pesto Pasta with Peas
Serves 4
(also known as 'Shrek Pasta' in our house)
Adapted from My Father's Daughter by Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth calls for 10 oil-packed anchovies in her recipe but I just add another pinch or two of salt in place of the anchovies. I've added up to 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds in the pesto for an even more nutritional punch and it was unrecognizable. Salt is important here for seasoning, don't skimp.

1 bunch kale, stripped of coarse stems
2 small garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt & ground pepper
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1 lb pasta: penne or spaghetti works well
1 cup frozen peas
freshly grated parmesan
up to 1 cup pasta water
*optional: 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
2. Put kale into boiling water and cook for about a minute or two. Remove from water with slotted spoon to a blender or food processor.
3. Put pasta in boiling water and cook according to directions.
4. Meanwhile, add garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and mascarpone (and pumpkin seeds, if desired) to blender and blend until smooth.
5. Remove one cup of cooking water from pasta with heat safe mug or glass measuring cup.
6. Add frozen peas to cooking pasta in last 2 minutes.
7. Drain pasta, toss with pesto and add pasta cooking water to thin as desired. Serve with grated parmesan, to taste.