Weeknight Pasta with Walnut Sauce and Kale

Hello!

In a past life as a personal chef, I would make this recipe for a client almost every week. He couldn’t consume anything acidic (onions, garlic, vinegar, etc) so I was always searching for ways to get a lot of flavor into a dish without falling back on those ingredients. You can add onions, garlic and/or vinegar but I think this dish is good without them too. And it’s one of those recipes that you can vary in SO many ways:

  • Pasta: I used fusilli but but you can use just about anything (if you make the sauce chunky, I think a short pasta would work best; if you puree the sauce, long, thin pasta would also work).
  • Nuts: I like the combination of walnuts and pine nuts but you can use just walnuts or try a different combination of your choice.
  • Herbs: I always used parsley in the past but I think basil or chives would be great too
  • Cheese: I like the way Pecorino stands up to the flavor of the walnuts but I think Parmesan or even goat cheese would be great.
  • Greens: don’t limit yourself to just kale – arugula, collards or chard would also be great. For tender greens, you can fold them right into the hot pasta without cooking them first.
  • Optional items: saute a little garlic with the kale and then deglaze the pan with a little white wine; finish with a little lemon juice or white wine vinegar; add caramelized onions.

Pasta with Walnut Sauce and Kale
makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound pasta of choice (I used fusilli)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces kale, destemmed and finely chopped
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup shredded Pecorino
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  • Cook pasta according to packing instructions and drain. Set aside.
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 12″ traditional skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the kale and saute, stirring frequently, until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and add to a large mixing bowl.
  • Clean out the skillet used for the kale and dry. Return to the stovetop and toast walnuts over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a large cutting board. Toast the pine nuts, stirring frequently, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to the cutting board. At this point, you can either chop the nuts finely by hand or transfer 3/4 to a food processor and process until finely ground; roughly chop the remaining nuts for added texture. Transfer nuts to the bowl with the kale.
  • Add the parsley, butter, olive oil and cheese to the bowl with the kale and nuts and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Mix with pasta and serve.

 


Radish & Green Onion Tzatziki

Hello,

Do you love Greek yogurt as much as I do? Yes, it’s more expensive than regular yogurt but it is oh-so-creamy and delicious. If you can stop yourself from eating it straight out of the container (when drizzled with honey, watch out) then you will love this sauce.

Tzatziki is a Greek sauce traditionally made with shredded cucumbers but here I used radishes and green onions instead. I served it with falafel but you could use it as a dip for pita chips…or you can eat it with a spoon 🙂

Radish & Green Onion Tzatziki
makes about 1-1/2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (I use Fage brand)
  • 4-5 medium radishes, grated on the medium holes of a box grater (should be about 3 tablespoons)
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Mix all ingredients together until well blended. If you are making this ahead, you may want to salt the radishes to draw out excess moisture. Otherwise, the sauce will be thinned out a bit by the liquid from the radishes.

 


Henbit & Dead Nettle Pistou

Hello!

Have you guys tried the henbit and dead nettle that Mark & Gina brought to market last week (check out our Instagram account for a side by side picture)? They are both considered “weeds” and often treated as such but given they are nutrient dense and medicinal, we think they deserve a place at your table.

I didn’t have any experience with either plant so I started by trying them raw. I found dead nettle to be a bit more interesting but both have an earthy flavor with hints of celery, parsley and a bit of bitterness. Try them for yourself – you might taste something much different!

You can definitely toss either in a salad, wrap or smoothie but I was looking for something to add to a bean stew I made today and came up with the recipe below. Pistou is just a fancy word for pesto without nuts. It is typically made with basil, similar to pesto, but I used henbit and dead nettle in its place. It packs a lot of flavor so a little goes a long way! Use it with anything rich – stews, fried food, cheese.

Give it a try and let us know what you think!

Henbit & Dead Nettle Pistou
makes 1/2 cup

Recipe notes: 1) I purchased a pre-shredded, extra aged cheese from Sequatchie Cove Creamery last week and used it in place of Parmesan and it turned out great – play around and try different cheeses; 2) I started the recipe using a mortar and pestle (as shown in the picture) but I didn’t have the patience so I transferred everything to a food processor.

Ingredients:

  • 2 small or 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup very loosely packed henbit leaves
  • 1 cup very loosely packed dead nettle leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan or other aged cheese of choice (see note)

Directions:

  • In a small food processor, add the garlic, henbit, dead nettle and oil. Process until mostly pureed but with a little texture left. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Indian Mustard Green Sauce with Potatoes

Hello!

Here is a tasty Indian inspired sauce that can be easily made ahead and frozen (prepare the potatoes before serving as they would not freeze well). Traditional sag aloo is based on spinach but I like the added complexity from mixing kale and mustard greens together. Experiment with a different mix of greens and let us know how it turns out.

This sauce is not a something that can be quickly thrown together – it will take a bit to make but well worth it in the end. Plus, it’s a great way to use a lot of greens at once! If you want to shorten the recipe a bit, you can use your favorite pre-ground Indian spice mix – I think equal amounts of curry powder and garam masala would work well. You could also use another vegetable in place of the potatoes – thaw out frozen cauliflower for an easy substitution.

Saag Aloo (Spinach Sauce with Potatoes)
serves 4

Recipe notes: 1) you can substitute waxy potatoes like Red Bliss but don’t use starchy potatoes such as Russets as they tend to fall apart and not hold their shape, 2) you can add more jalapeno depending on your desired spice level – although it is impossible to tell how much heat any one chile will give without tasting it (as it depends on the growing conditions), 1/2 jalapeno probably won’t give much noticeable heat.

  • Ingredients:
    • 4 medium (1-1/3 lb) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled if desired, and cut into 1″ cubes
    • 3 tablespoon vegetable oil
    • Kosher salt
    • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
    • Seeds from 3 cardamom pods, about 1/4 teaspoon
    • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
    • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
    • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 medium sweet onion, peeled and cut into a small dice
    • 1/2 large jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, minced (optional)
    • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
    • 3-4 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
    • 10 ounces kale (about 1 large bunch), washed and roughly chopped
    • 10 ounces mustard greens (about 1 large bunch), washed and roughly chopped
    • 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained and chopped
    • Juice of one fresh lime
    • 1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
    • 1/2 cup roasted cashews, chopped
    • Rice and/or naan to serve
  • Directions:
    • Place potatoes in a microwave safe bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, remove plastic wrap away from your face to avoid the steam, and test for doneness. Cover and cook for a few minutes longer if they aren’t cooked all the way through. Alternatively, you can steam the potatoes in a steamer basket set over simmering water (should take about 5 minutes to cook through). Set aside.
    • Grind the cumin and cardamom seeds using a mortal and pestle or a spice grinder. Combine with the remaining spices and set aside.
    • Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the spice mixture. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the onion and jalapeno and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 4-5 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the greens in 2 or 3 batches, if necessary, until they have wilted down and start to release moisture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until almost all of the moisture has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
    • Remove from heat and transfer 1/2 of the spinach mixture to a blender or small food processor. Pulse until mostly smooth, about 5 1-second pulses. Return the puree to the skillet with the remaining greens and stir to combine. Add the tomato, lime juice and heavy cream, if using, and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Stir in the potatoes. Serve over rice and top with chopped cashews.