Whole Living Daily

Lunch in the Test Kitchen

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Working in the test kitchen often means eating lunch in the test kitchen, and one of the biggest challenges is to cook a quick, nutritious meal using ingredients on hand. After a tour of the kitchen fridge, I have all the fixings for hearty pasta: a bunch of kale left over from a photo shoot, basil from recipe testing, and a bit of ricotta. Next, I head over to the pantry to pick up a box of whole wheat penne, some garlic, and red pepper flakes. A hungry colleague generously donated the tomatoes.

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1 Found and bartered ingredients, minus the olive oil.

2 Roasting at 400º is hot enough to caramelize the juices but not too hot to burn the garlic (which makes it bitter.)

3 Adding the kale during the last few minutes of cooking the pasta means one less pan to clean up!

4 It's a good habit to reserve some of the pasta water before draining. The starches released from the pasta will add body to sauces.

5 Toss all the ingredients in the pot. Adjust the consistency with reserved pasta water, if desired. Nothing beats the perfume of fresh basil. . .

Roasted Tomato and Kale Pasta

  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound whole wheat penne rigate
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed, leaves torn into small pieces
  • A few spoonfuls of ricotta
  • A handful of fresh basil

Heat oven to 400º. Arrange the tomatoes and garlic slices on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and red pepper flakes; toss to coat. Roast until tomatoes are beginning to burst, about 10 to 15 minutes.

While the tomatoes are cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season generously with salt ("salty like the sea" is the goal.) Cook pasta according to package directions. Add kale during the last 2 minutes of cooking, and stir with a spoon. Reserve some pasta water, and drain pasta and kale.  Return everything to pot. Add roasted tomatoes, garlic, and any pan juices. Dollop with a few spoonfuls of ricotta and toss with basil. If the pasta seems dry, add some reserved pasta water.

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