Hail the Kale! Linguini with Breadcrumbs and Kale

I’ve belonged to a CSA for a few years now – CSA stands for “community supported agriculture” – basically you “invest” in a farmer and in return you get some of the farmer’s fresh produce each week. CSAs are great because they can expose you to vegetables that are not regularly on your shopping list. One of my favorite CSA discoveries is how much I LOVE kale. The kind I like goes by several names – black kale, Tuscan kale, cavalo nero, lacinato kale, dino kale. I think that last name refers to the fact that the leaves are dark green and bumpy and look like a dinosaur’s skin, or what I guess a dinosaur’s skin would have looked like. Lacinato Kale has this deep, mineral, healthy taste that I think I’m slightly addicted to now. Sauteed kale is really good atop rice or polenta or mixed into mashed potatoes. Anyway, yesterday I had some in my fridge, thanks to the good folks at Bending Bridge Farm in Pennsylvania.

I used it up in a recipe I recently found on Food52.com, a relatively new recipe site founded by Amanda Hesser (of “Cooking for Mr. Latte” fame) and her friend Merrill Stubbs. Each week Amanda and Merrill choose two themes, say “muffins” and “lamb chops,” then readers send in recipes for one of those themes, Amanda and Merrill choose two finalists in each category, and then readers vote for which they like better. A cookbook will be published of all the winning recipes.

“Linguini with Breadcrumbs and Kale” was submitted last year by a Food52’er with the screen name Hotplate Gourmet. It’s an easy and delicious recipe. I was thinking about skipping the bread crumbs, but then remembered I had some stale baguette pieces in the freezer that were waiting for such an occasion. Don’t skip the breadcrumbs, they’re delicious. I did follow Amanda and Merrill’s advice to cook the breadcrumbs and kale separately, to ensure the crumbs stayed nice and crisp. I scaled down the portions somewhat as I was cooking for just myself.

Linguini with Breadcrumbs and Kale
Submitted by “Hotplate Gourmet” to Food52.com

  • 1/2 pound linguini
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 slices, day old bread, cubed
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 bunch kale, chopped [ET note: Remove the tough center ribs from the leaves with a knife or your fingers, and cut the leaves into strips or roughly chop them.]
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper
  1. Boil pasta according to the package in salted water.
  2. Process bread in a food processor until it’s about the consistency of coarse cornmeal. [ET note: My pieces were not at all uniform and I liked having some that were bigger than others, like grain-of-rice sized.]
  3. Heat ¼ c. oil in a frying pan and add the breadcrumbs. Once the breadcrumbs are slightly toasted and golden brown, add the garlic and continue to stir until well toasted. [ET note: As suggested by Food52’s editors, I took the breadcrumbs out of the pan at this point.]
  4. Add the kale to the frying pan with a little bit of the pasta water and sauté quickly. [ET note: I cooked for about 7 min, sprinkling in spoonfuls of pasta water as needed.]
  5. Toss the oil mixture with the drained pasta and add salt & pepper to taste. Add the rest of the oil as needed. Mix in parmesan and serve.

Serves 2-3

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