I am very lucky that I can blog while travelling, especially to the UK where I can cook and test out recipes from the kitchens of my family and friends who are kind enough to let me do that. The next best thing about blogging as I travel is the range and choice of ingredients found in different countries and regions across the world which only serves to add to the diversity and repertoire of my recipes and experiences.
Earlier this week, as I made my trip to Borough Market in London (I promise a separate blog on that soon), I discovered a range of vegetables and spices I never knew existed. Having said that, I specifically went out to seek ‘Kale’ which till date had remained elusive and was elated to finally lay my eyes and hands on it. Apart from its health benefits, I love the way Kale holds its form and taste and yet willingly absorbs any flavours that it is immersed in.
In the lovely spring weather that has descended in UK (touché to that), I thought that a summery chilled pasta salad with kale, sundried tomatoes and pine nuts would be really nice in the hot weather, just on its own or as an accompaniment to barbeque meals that will soon fill up the gardens in UK, rather than the usual hot pasta dishes.
Initially I did think about keeping the kale raw but given its texture, I reckoned it would be so much nicer quickly stir fried allowing it to absorb the pepperiness of the olive oil and warmth of garlic. This dish is packed with health benefits of kale and pine nuts, the salty bite from the sundried tomatoes and the creaminess of the basil pesto. If you are using store bought pesto, like I did, the only recommendation is to look for one made with 100% olive oil rather than those made with sunflower oil or a mix of two. Feel free to switch the pasta shapes or use gluten free versions, or add seasonal vegetables for wholesome meal…meanwhile I go looking for seeds for my kitchen garden to carry back to India…
- Dried / Fresh Farfalle Pasta – 250 grams
- Curly Kale – a big handful
- Sundried Tomatoes – 8-10, roughly chopped
- Basil Pesto – a small cup / 100 grams
- Garlic Pods – 2, crushed
- Pine nuts – 15-20 or as much as you like, toasted
- Olive Oil – 4-5 tablespoons
Start by boiling the pasta according to the cooking instructions on the pack till al dente and leave to cool with a drizzle of olive oil stirred through to prevent them from sticking and leave to cool. While draining, reserve a bowl of the pasta cooking water for use later.
To prepare the kale, take the leaves off the centre stock and thoroughly wash and rinse the leaves through a colander. Now roll up a few leaves at a time into a bunch and start slicing into thin ribbons, chiffonading as they call it. Heat up a large pan or wok with a few lugs of good quality olive oil and add the garlic, briefly frying it for about 30 seconds. Add the chopped kale leaves, salt to season and toss for 3-4 minutes till the oil coats all the leaves and they go slightly dark green in colour.
Toss in the cooked pasta, chopped sun dried tomatoes, pesto sauce and toasted pine nuts and stir gently such that the ingredients are well combined. Take off the heat, transfer into a heat proof dish and refrigerate for a couple of hours till nice and cold. Lovely with a glass of your favourite chilled white wine!
- While preparing the kale, make sure you take off the thick center stocks which can quite fibrous from the leaves;
- While toasting the pine nuts, keep the heat on a low flame and keep an eye on it to prevent them from burning as they will taste bitter; Ditto for the garlic as well;
- Do not be tempted to overcook the kale as they will loose both their colour and crunch;