Monday, July 28, 2014

summer kale pasta salad

It's summer.....although you wouldn't know it today.  Late July in Michigan, and it struggled to get out of the 60's. This is usually one of our hottest stretches of the year, but today feels a little like fall.

Not that I'm complaining....I don't wish for a repeat of the heat waves we've had in the past few summers.

There is a point here.
Trust me. summer comes, my food cravings change.  I think it's pretty typical-- I don't crave warm, hearty soups, stews, and heavy pasta dishes.  I generally want meals that don't (a) require me to use the oven/stove, and (b) are on the "lighter" side. I have written about in the past in this post, I am a huge fan of pasta, even in the summer.
My "summer pastas", while lighter and definitely more figure-friendly, still require me to crank up the heat in my kitchen.  Not my favorite thing to do on a hot summer day.....but today.....

Following me now?  ;)

I decided with the cool weather today, what better time than to make a new summer pasta dish!

A couple weeks ago, a coworker saw that I was making kale chips after I posted a picture on Instagram....and she told me about this recipe she just pinned on Pinterest. (Thanks, Maggie!)  Since I had just bought some kale at the store yesterday, I decided to make it today.

My recipe was inspired by this Kale Pasta Salad by the Pioneer Woman.  

Summer Kale Pasta Salad

First, I assembled all of my ingredients like the good little blogger that I am....and in true "my own twist on things" fashion, I changed up some of the ingredients to fit with what I had at home and what I love.

What I used....
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Bowtie (Farfalle) pasta
Grape tomatoes
Slivered almonds
Salt & Pepper
Shredded cheese

First, I poured about a quarter cup of slivered almonds into a small pan and let them slowly warm/lightly brown up over low heat.  I would shake/turn them once in a while, and probably left them on the heat for about ten minutes.  The original recipe used pine nuts....but (a) I didn't have any at home and (b) I LOVE almonds!  This was one of my favorite parts of the salad.  Their crunch was the perfect complement to the softer texture of the rest of the ingredients.

At the same time, I brought a pot of water to boil, added a little salt to the water, and dumped in a pound of pasta.  Although I generally stick with whole grain pasta only, for this recipe I really wanted to use the bowtie pasta like in the original recipe.  So I "splurged" a little.  Honestly though, you could use any short-cut pasta that you like or have on hand.

Next, I broke apart a bunch of cloves of garlic, and did the fun "pound the flat side of the knife on the cloves" trick to get the skins loose.  You could just mince the garlic at this point, but I have a crazy love of using my hand grater to finely grate garlic.  
So that's what I did. I just don't have the skill (coordination) to take a picture of me doing it.  ;)

I coated the bottom of a large frying pan with olive oil (I don't measure....sorry), and then grated in the garlic.
Smells.  So.  Good.
And then, because I LOVE grape tomatoes, especially when they get warmed up and burst open....I added those to the pan after the garlic had some time to infuse the oil with its deliciousness.

(NOTE:  I added about a cup of tomatoes to start, but later (not pictured) added another cup because I thought it needed more)

When the pasta was done cooking, I drained it and poured it back into the hot pot (off the heat).
Then....when the tomatoes were just starting to shrivel a little, I poured the garlic oil/tomato "sauce" over the cooked pasta.

Add a little salt and pepper at this point, and just let the pasta sit and absorb all that flavor, and the tomatoes will continue to warm as well.

Drizzle in some balsamic vinegar to give it an extra "zip" of flavor....but be careful.  This stuff can be strong.

Meanwhile....I had ripped the leaves off the stems of a bunch of kale and then gave it a good "rough chop".
Which is a cooking term meaning.....not fancy.

Then....all of that kale gets dropped into the SAME pan you made the garlic oil in.....which you DON'T wipe out after pouring the sauce into the pasta.  It's the perfect amount of oil/seasonings to cook the kale. I just kept tossing it over low/medium low heat until it had wilted down a bit.....kind of looking like this.....

Then I added the cooked kale to the pasta....

Sprinkled in the toasted almonds....

And while the original recipe called for shaved Parmesan at the end, and that sounds amazing....I didn't have any at home.  I did have shredded I added about a cup of that.  :)

This is a great time to check your seasonings....a.k.a. take a taste.

I felt like it needed a little more pepper, so after adding that I mixed it all up and that's all there is to it!

Like I is a great summer salad, but you could have this any time of year. 

I had a large bowl of it for dinner and it was SO filling....but it would also make a great side to something off the grill.....chicken, burgers, many ideas of what I can eat with the leftovers!


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