Creamy Goat Cheese Pasta with Kale

I have been trying to experiment more with growing dark leafy greens in the garden. Last year was a disaster with swiss chard. No matter how many times I tried to prepare it, it still tasted like dirt. This year I took on dinosaur kale. It is a variety of kale that has a flatter leaf than the curly variety usually found in the grocery store.
I started the plants from seed this spring. I was beginning to feel like they were never going to grow but all of a sudden they look like this

Commence torturing Mike with kale recipes (evil laugh.)

Seriously though, I found this really yummy recipe from Martha I slightly adapted it based on what I had on hand. You could easily substitute spinach for the kale in this recipe and play with other add ins. The goat cheese sauce is what makes this really delicious.

Gather your ingredients

(Apparently I am not a good ingredients organizer because I left out the garlic and olive oil in this pic)

  • 1 pound dried pasta (Martha called for penne, I had mini rotini and I only used 3/4 of the cooked pasta)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small or one medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 small garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes (This isn't spicy. If you like it hotter add 1-2 tsp or omit if you want it mild )        
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon zest, plus more for garnish 
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay
  • 1/2 bunch kale, tough stems removed, leaves thinly sliced crosswise (8 cups) (A good tip to remove the stems: Hold the stem in one hand and grab the kale with the other and run your hand down the stem. The leaf will easily separate.)
  • 6 to 7 ounces fresh goat cheese (not sure what fresh is. I just bought what I found at the grocery store)
  • 1/2 cup pitted, halved Kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes. Sliced in half or quarters
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup  Parmesan cheese (Martha called for fresh but I just used the powder stuff and it was fine. I also reduced the amount)
  • Optional: two cups meat- shredded turkey, chicken or sausage would all work. ( I didn't add meat since I wanted this as a side dish)

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Reserve 1 1/2 cups cooking water, then drain.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and the red-pepper flakes, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 3 minutes.

Add lemon zest and wine, and cook until wine has evaporated, about 1 minute. Stir in kale and 1/4 cup reserved cooking water, and cook until kale wilts, about 3 minutes.

Add meat (if you are adding it) and cook until heated through. Add goat cheese and remaining 1 1/4 cups reserved cooking liquid, stirring until sauce is creamy.

Add the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes

Add pasta to skillet, and cook, stirring, until pasta is coated and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in olives and lemon juice. Sprinkle with Parmesan and lemon zest.

Serve immediately. We had it with smoked chicken legs from the smoker. And Mike enjoyed it! Score one for kale!

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