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Pasta with Kale Pesto and Fried Lemons


I love kale. There, I said it. Some people (including a few of my very own family members) have a love-hate relationship with kale, but I am not one of them. It has an herbaceous, bitter flavor and is brightened by a touch of acidity from vinegar or lemons. In springtime, kale can be a little less bitter, due to warm days and cool nights, not to mention having a beautiful bright green color. I've made kale pesto with braised cabbage on The Chew, and just a slight variation makes it perfect with pasta. I love the addition of fried lemons, which add a little extra pucker to the dish and a crunchy caramelized element as well.

Serves 4.

for the pesto:

1 bunch fresh kale, stems removed (you should have about 2 cups of the kale leaves)

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

2 - 3 garlic cloves, peeled

1 teaspoon red chile flakes

1/3 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound spaghetti or pasta of your choice, cooked until al dente

1 whole lemon, very thinly sliced into rounds

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Kosher salt

Red chile flakes for garnish (optional)

Grated Parmesan cheese or toasted bread crumbs for garnish (optional)

To make the pesto: place the kale leaves, lemon zest, garlic cloves, and red chile flakes into a food processor and pulse several times until the kale leaves are chopped smaller and the ingredients are combined. While the food processor is running, add the lemon juice and then the olive oil in a thin stream, until you have a slightly loose purée. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To make the fried lemons: Heat the vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the lemon slices, turning occasionally until they are browned on both sides and crispy. Remove to drain on a paper towel and sprinkle a little Kosher salt over the slices.

Mix the pesto with the hot cooked pasta until the pasta is completely coasted in the pesto. To serve, place about a cup of pasta into an individual serving bowl or on a plate, top with a few slices of fried lemon, and sprinkle with the additional red chile flakes and the Parmesan cheese or toasted bread crumbs. Serve immediately.

Fiesta pasta bowl provided by Homer Laughlin China Company.

Carla's Tips:

• This kale pesto is also delicious spooned on top of cooked chicken or fish, dolloped on top of cornbread, swirled into vinaigrette for salads, or mixed into soup.

• If the kale is a little bitter for your taste, add a pinch of sugar to the pesto to help balance out the flavor.

Like these bowls? They are FIESTAWARE!

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