25th Apr 2018
If you like kale – or even if you’re on the fence – you’ll love this modern and healthy twist on pesto pasta. It’s one of my go-to dinners on Friday nights, and I can have it on the table in 20 minutes. And if we’ve got a bottle of white wine chilling in the fridge, all the better to unwind after a long week.
Note You’ll need some of the pasta cooking water for the sauce, so be sure to reserve some before you drain the pasta. It’s easy to forget, so I always put a liquid measuring cup right next to the colander as a visual reminder.
50g packed, torn kale leaves, stems removed
20g tightly packed fresh basil leaves
1 tsp salt, plus more for boiling the pasta
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp sugar
120ml extra-virgin olive oil
40g walnuts, toasted if desired (see Pro Tip)
2 medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped
50g grated pecorino romano cheese
For the topping
35g shredded pecorino romano cheese
60g chopped walnuts, toasted, if desired (see Pro Tip)
Cover the top of the food processor with plastic wrap before securing the lid; that way, you won’t have to clean the top. Toasting the walnuts isn’t essential, but it brings out their flavour and makes them crunchier. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Arrange the walnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake, checking frequently, until lightly toasted and fragrant, 6-10 minutes. Transfer immediately to a plate and let cool.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and boil until al dente, about 10 minutes, or according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, make the pesto: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the kale and basil; process until finely chopped. Add the remaining ingredients (except the extra cheese and walnuts for the topping) and pulse until smooth.
Reserve 240ml of the cooking water, then drain the spaghetti in a colander. Add the spaghetti back to the pot and toss with the pesto and 120ml of the cooking water. If the pasta seems dry, add more of the water. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary, then serve topped with the grated pecorino romano and chopped walnuts.
Extracted from Once Upon a Chef, the Cookbook: 100 Tested, Perfected, and Family-Approved Recipes by Jennifer Segal (Chronicle Books, approx €25). Photographs by Alexandra Grablewski.
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