I have a love/hate relationship with my CSA box. I love the idea of having fresh, seasonal, locally grown vegetables plucked from the earth and delivered to my doorstep. I’m totally like a kid on Christmas morning as I struggle to pull open the the sturdy tabs and discover what gustatory surprises await. I ooh and aah over the contents as I unload the box layer by layer—Fuji apples, Satsuma tangerines, Bosc pears. Ooh, what’s this? Bibb lettuce! And green beans! In the Spring and Summer, and even in the Fall, I’m rewarded with delights like berries and stone fruits, sweet squashes, corn, and tomatoes. Unfortunately, in these dark days of winter, too often what arrives are vegetables and fruits, like kale and grapefruit, that are just, well, too hardy and bitter for my taste. But if there is anything I hate more than a bitter dose of produce, it is wasting food, and so I curse the farmer as I choke down bushels of winter greens week after week throughout the season.
So it was that I found myself complaining (bitterly, I might add) to my neighbor about getting kale in my box yet again when she told me about a kale recipe so good at disguising the green’s less appealing qualities that even her avowed non-vegetable-eating toddler would scarf it down. The best thing about this recipe was that I had all the ingredients—a bunch of kale, plus a lemon, pine nuts, pasta, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese—on hand.
The recipe comes together surprisingly quickly and easily. Simply blanch the kale (save the blanching water to cook the pasta) and squeeze out the excess water. While the pasta cooks, whirl the pesto ingredients in the food processor, add the oil and you’re done. The bright green color is absolutely stunning and the fresh, bright flavor may even make you forget for a moment that it is the dead of winter. I like to use farfalle (butterfly-shaped pasta) as a subtle reminder that spring is, in fact, just around the corner.
- 1 bunch (about 8 ounces) kale, hearty center ribs removed
- 1 pound farfalle or other pasta
- 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1 large clove garlic
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
- ½ cup olive oil
- Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
- Bring a stockpot of salted water (enough to cook the pasta) to a boil and fill a medium bowl with ice water.
- Blanch the kale in boiling water for 45 seconds. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the kale the the ice water to stop the cooking. Leave the pot of water on the heat and return to a boil.
- Drain the kale, place it in a clean dishtowel, and squeeze to remove any excess water.
- Cook the pasta in the boiling water according to the package instructions.
- While the pasta is cooking, combine the kale, pine nuts, garlic, salt, and lemon zest in a food processor, pulsing until smooth.
- With the motor running, drizzle in the oil until it is fully incorporated. Taste and add lemon juice to taste and more salt, if needed.
- Drain pasta, reserving some of the cooking water, and toss with the pesto. Add a bit of the cooking water if needed to coat the pasta nicely.
- Serve immediately with a generous dusting of grated Parmesan.