I’m back after almost a month and if it’s any comfort, I’ve missed you just as much as you’ve missed me. Part of the reason for my absence was that Desi and I were traveling. We flew up to the west coast and then made our way from San Francisco up through Portland, Seattle and finally Vancouver in Canada. Along the way we stopped at the state capitols in Sacramento, Salem, and Olympia (have I told you Desi loves to see statehouses?)
It was a hectic trip and we packed in a lot, but it was also exhilarating, as travel always is. We drove through curvy mountain roads flanked by snow-covered evergreens, and past breathtaking volcanic peaks like California’s Mount Shasta and Washington’s Mount Rainier. We walked in the misty rain in Portland without umbrellas (like true Portlanders, we’re told), bought food from the city’s famed vegan food carts, and I discovered I have a sweet tooth after all at the quirky Voodoo Donuts. We went up the space needle in Seattle and took pictures of tourists posing inside the first Starbucks at Pike Place. And even pouring rain could not keep us from joining hundreds of Vancouverites exploring the night life on buzzing Granville Street on a Friday evening.
I’ve been a little slow to get back to cooking too (cooking new stuff, that is), so I haven’t had a whole lot to share. But last night, looking for a quick recipe that I could brown-bag for Desi, I came upon a Kale Pesto on Rachel Ray’s website. I loved the sound of it, and I almost always have kale in my refrigerator (like any good vegan), so I decided to give it a try.
I followed my own pesto recipe, except for swapping the herb (or spinach, which I use sometimes) with kale. The kale needs a small amount of cooking, so keep that in mind as you plan. It’s not a ton of time– you just need to dunk the kale in boiling water and let it cook away for five minutes. And since you can use the same water to boil your pasta, it’s no additional trouble at all.
I have more to share, and I’ll be back soon. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a quick, nutritious, delicious weeknight supper or a light weekend lunch, give this a try. Ciao!
Conchiglie Pasta with Kale-Walnut Pesto
1 24-oz box of small pasta. (I used whole-wheat conchiglie which are tiny, adorable, shell-shaped pasta)
A small bunch of asparagus spears, tough ends removed, then cut lengthwise into 3/4-inch pieces (store the tough ends for vegetable stock).
1 tsp red pepper flakes
8 large leaves of kale, tough stems removed
4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted (this is easy to do in the microwave. Spread the walnuts in a plate and microwave on high for a minute. Toss them around, then microwave for another minute)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 heaping tbsp white miso
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of one large lemon
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Dunk in the kale leaves. Bring the water back to a boil and let the kale leaves cook for five minutes. Then, using a pair of tongs, fish out the kale leaves and set them aside. Bring the water to a boil again and add your pasta.
About five minutes before the pasta is cooked, add the chopped asparagus.
Meanwhile, assemble the pesto. Place the cooked kale, 1/2 cup of toasted walnuts, nutritional yeast, miso, garlic and olive oil in a food processor or blender.
Process into a paste. I processed mine pretty smooth this time, but you can leave it coarse if you like your pesto that way. The jewel-green color of this sauce has to be seen to be believed– it’s just gorgeous.
Mix the pesto, cooked pasta and asparagus, lemon juice, and remaining walnuts in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.
Serve and enjoy!