Pasta

Kale and Walnut Pesto Pasta with Lemon Shrimp

 

I’m a little late to the kale trend, but I have recently started experimenting with it in the kitchen. Kale is a superfood and no that does not mean it has sonic vision or invisibility powers. A superfood is one that is light in calories, rich in nutrients and has additional health benefits. Kale’s extra health goodies include all kinds of fancy science words like phytochemicals and beta-carotene. But all you need to know is that it’s good for you.

Don’t run away just yet! I promise I wouldn’t share something that wasn’t also sneak-back-for-seconds delicious. Through my adventures with kale I have discovered that it can also often be very bitter. Turning the kale into a pesto with walnuts, Parmesan, lemon and olive oil ensures that the kale is vibrant, savory and definitely not bitter. It might just be my new favorite pesto.

I love loading my meals with seasonal vegetables, which is why I added the leeks and red peppers. The kale may shine, but the lemon shrimp isn’t far behind. I love anything with a fresh lemon flavor and the shrimp in this recipe do not disappoint. They were so tasty I would certainly not promote skipping the shrimp in this dish, but if you needed it to be vegetarian you could omit the shrimp and add the lemon juice and zest to the vegetables instead.

Kale and Walnut Pesto Pasta with Lemon Shrimp
 
Yield: 6 servings, plus 1 extra cup pesto
Ingredients
for the pesto
  • ¾ cup shelled walnuts
  • 12 ounces kale
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ⅔ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
for the pasta
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 1 bunch leeks
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
for the pesto
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Evenly spread the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until the walnuts are roasted, about 6 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cool chop ¼ cup of the walnuts, leaving the rest whole, and set aside for garnish.
  2. Remove the hard stems from the kale then roughly chop. Steam for 4 minutes, or until tender.
  3. In a food processor or with an immersion blender pulse together the steamed kale, garlic, ½ cup of the roasted walnuts, Parmesan and 2 tablespoons lemon juice until a paste forms. While pulsing pour in ⅔ cup olive oil then season with salt and pepper.
for the pasta
  1. Cook the linguine until al dente then drain.
  2. Prepare the leeks. Trim off the dark green parts and discard. Trim off the root ends and discard. Cut the entire leek lengthwise then slice crosswise into pieces.
  3. Leeks harbor a lot of dirt so special care needs to be taken to remove all the grit. First rinse the sliced leeks thoroughly in a colander. Then fill a large bowl with cold water and add the rinsed leeks. Swirl and rub the leeks with your hands to dislodge any dirt. The dirt will sink to the bottom of the bowl so remove the leek pieces with a slotted spoon and set back in the rinsed colander to dry.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. Add the sliced red peppers and prepared leeks. Cook for 5 minutes, or until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Once cooked remove from the pan and set aside.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in the same sauté pan. Toss the shrimp with the flour then sauté in the pan for 5 minutes, or until firm and pink making sure to turn while cooking. Stir in the zest and 3 tablespoons lemon juice then season with salt and pepper. Add the sautéed leeks and red peppers then remove from the heat.
  6. Toss the pasta with 1 cup pesto, shrimp and vegetables. Garnish with the chopped walnuts and extra grated Parmesan, if desired.

Recipe adapted from November/December 2013 issue of Cuisine at Home.

Sun-dried Tomato & Kalamata Olive Lemon Pasta

I find it amazing how much our taste in food adapts and evolves as we age. Do you know children often need to be introduced to a food 15-20 times before deciding whether they like or dislike it? I must have never given many of the ingredients in this dish a proper chance because if I told my 10-year-old self that I would be happily chowing down a bowl of pasta with mushrooms, garlic, lemon and… olives? Gasp! Unthinkable!

For my whole childhood and early young adulthood, I was an olive hater. It was more than simple dislike of olives; when others ate them I would scrunch my face up and say, “Ew, gross, you like olives??” Clearly I was particularly mature for my age.

But this pasta here, this is miracle pasta. Whether you snarf down olives by the jar or their briny smell makes you run away, you must try this pasta dish. The savory mushrooms and pasta are perfectly balanced by the saltiness of the olives and Parmesan. The lemon and parsley provide a fresh finish and help keep the dish light. This recipe is easily adaptable as you can adjust it to your own preferences. A few more mushrooms, a little less garlic, it’s up to you. If you’re feeling super adventurous you could even load up on the olives.

Since I’m still warming up to olives and don’t want a whole jar of them sitting in our fridge I usually get what I need from the salad bar at my grocery store. Sometimes if you put them in the little dressing container they won’t even charge you! Now hurry up and get cooking!

Sun-dried Tomato & Kalamata Olive Lemon Pasta
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 12 ounces thick spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • ¼ cup kalamata olives, pits removed & chopped
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • ⅓ cup fresh grated parmesan, plus more for serving
  • ½ cup fresh chopped parsley
Directions
  1. Cook the spaghetti al dente. When draining the cooked pasta, reserve 1 cup of the cooking water.
  2. While the pasta is cooking heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and mushrooms, stirring occasionally.
  3. After 5 minutes, or once the mushrooms look almost browned, add the olives, lemon juice and sun-dried tomatoes. Cook for 3 minutes.
  4. Add the cooked spaghetti, lemon zest and parsley to the skillet. Toss together in the skillet then add ⅓ cup of the reserved water. Add more reserved water if there is not enough sauce to coat the spaghetti.
  5. After pasta is tossed, top with the parmesan.
  6. To serve top with more parmesan if desired.
Notes
I use dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes when I make this recipe. If you use oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes instead you may want to reduce the amount of oil in the second step of the recipe.

Recipe adapted from September 2013 issue of Women’s Health.