Good old kale - it is a brassica crop i can count on to do well, so long as i establish my plants after the white cabbage butterfly season is over. Because i live in an area where brassica crops are commonly grown as animal fodder we get plagues of white butterflies in the latter part of summer. I have found that if i have large kale plants in the garden over this time they get well attacked by the white butterfly caterpillars, but after the first frost they tend to re-sprout healthy new leaves. I get younger plants growing in the insect-proof cold-frame, and wait for the colder weather before planting them out. I grow several varieties of Kale each year - Red Russian, Green Cossack (pictured) and Di Toscana (also known as Palm-tree cabbage).
Kale Pasta sauce is a very quick and tasty meal - it is one of my go-to recipes when i am otherwise lacking inspiration. It is really just a version of "pesto pasta", the pesto in this version using kale as the green leaf, feta as the cheese and lacking only the nut component. It also has a bit more body to it than a pesto, due to the bulk of the kale and feta.
This is my most frequently used recipe from Heidi Swanson's 101 Cookbooks blog. I've made a few changes to Heidi's recipe, like frying the onion and garlic before adding the kale and water. If you are in a real hurry and want to save time you can do as she does, and just chuck the halved onions and whole garlic cloves in to the water to boil for a couple of minutes before adding the pasta. Heidi uses goat cheese rather than the feta (i usually have cow feta in the fridge, and it is a lot cheaper then goat cheese), but she also suggests experimenting with other cheeses - parmesan, ricotta or whatever you have to hand. I also like to add a good amount of fresh thyme to the sauce, and i can never resist adding lemon zest, although it is possible to get carried away with the lemon - occasionally i've ended up thinking it might be nicer if it was a little less lemony
This makes a really satisfying meal with lots of green goodness
KALE PASTA BOWL
Slightly adapted from Heidi Swanson's, 101 Cookbooks blog
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 medium onions, peeled
1 bunch of kale, well washed, stalks removed
80 ml extra virgin olive oil
100 g feta cheese
2 tablespoons (or more) hot pasta water
Fine grain sea salt & freshly ground pepper
Fresh lemon juice
250 g dried penne pasta
Fresh thyme, stems removed, finely chopped - about a tablespoonful
Roughly chop your onions and garlic, then place in a large, heavy based saucepan along with a good lug of olive oil. Fry gently to soften, until the onion is translucent, then add plenty of water and bring to the boil. Salt generously and boil for a couple of minutes, stir in the kale and cook for another 10 seconds. Don't overcook. Working quickly, use a slotted spoon or strainer to remove the greens, garlic and shallots from the water. Use a food processor to puree the ingredients along with the olive oil, thyme and the feta. Leave in the food processor, and cook your pasta in the same pot of water per package instructions. Drain, saving a little of the pasta water.
Add a couple of tablespoons of the hot pasta water to your sauce if needed to thin things out a little. Season with a touch of salt and plenty of pepper. Taste. Depending on your cheese you might need a little extra acidic oomph if your sauce is a bit flat. If so, add fresh lemon juice a bit at a time until you are happy with the result.
Toss immediately with the drained pasta. Serve topped with some sprigs of fresh thyme and more crumbled cheese, and some lemon zest.