If you are a kale fan you'll love it; if you are on the kale hating wagon you'll love it too.
This recipe is full of flavour and it proves that kale is not only an ingredient of those weight loss uninteresting meals or hippie smoothies. Another plus (not that this recipe needs it) is that it comes together in the time the pasta takes to cook.
The bitterness of the kale pairs deliciously with the lemon and the somewhat citrusy sharp capers.
Don't be put off by the word anchovy making itself present on the ingredient list. Go try it, I dare you! There is not even a reminiscence of fishy flavour in the sauce plus they melt away in the oil so you won't even notice them but you'll know they there because they make it all better.
I came up with this recipe when we had to cancel our plans to dine out; there was not much in the fridge (Sunday night!) but a packet of the mischievous brassica and a very nice chunk of a 24 month aged parmesan, I proceeded to open the freezer and found a bag of homemade chestnut flour – I know... and then I complain about having no time for myself).
The chestnuts are responsible for the silky and lucious texture of the sauce.
You don't have to sacrifice the skin of your fingers to get hold of it, nowadays is widely available. If you live in NZ or Australasia you can order it here.
You can always leave it our but then don't blame me if your pasta lacks that je ne sais quoi .
Creamy kale and chestnut pasta
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 anchovies in oil, drained
3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Chilli flakes, a pinch or to taste
1/2 lemon, zest and juice separated
1 tbsp whole capers in brine, drained
2 tbsp chestnut flour
100 gr of curly kale, stalks removed
1 losely packed cup of aged parmesan finely shredded (I use a Microplane for this)
Salt and freshly groud pepper to taste
1/2 cup pasta water
200 gr penne rigate, wholemeal, spelt, gluten free or good old white pasta (its all about a balanced diet
100 gr mangetout, sliced in 1 cm pieces
Extra parmesan for serving , shaved with a potato peeler
Start by putting a pan of water to boil, enough to fit your pasta . Once it starts to boil add salt and cook as per pasta instructions, usually 10 minutes for al dente penne rigate. One minute before the time is up add the chopped mangetout, drain and reserve pasta water for sauce.
Meanwhile in a big pan ( 30 cm ø) on low heat put olive oil and anchovies to slowly cook till the anchovies have melted completely, use the back of a wooden spoon and press on them to help with the process.
Add sliced garlic, chilli flakes and freshly ground pepper and continue cooking on low heat till the garlic is lightly golden. Add drained capers and cook for a further 2 minutes or until they pop. Add trimmed kale and lemon zest and cook until the kale wilts down a bit. Move kale to the sides of the pan leaving the center of it cleared and add the chestnut flour. Toast lightly then add grated parmesan and some of the pasta cooking water, I start with 1/2 a cup and judge from there. You will be adding more with the cooked pasta.
Incorporate cooked pasta, mangetout and lemon juice and combine adding a bit of the cooking water at a time to create a creamy and homogenous sauce. Cook a few seconds further till it slightly thickens ( it will thicken more once it starts cooling down). Check seasoning and serve immediately with more grated cheese and freshly ground pepper.