Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pasta Alfredo with Kale

Sunday in DC was finally the cold, crisp winter day I've been waiting for.  The Patriots played the Redskins, causing a clash of my New England loyalty with my new life in Washington, and it the Redskins actually held their own.  They lost, thank goodness, else I would have had to reconsider the natural order of the world.  With most of my friends out tailgating, I decided it was the perfect time to make some warm, creamy comfort food (I mean, at least I wasn't out devouring pulled pork and playing flip cup, right?).  

This was the first time I've made an alfredo sauce, and I was shocked at how simple it was!  With only three ingredients, it was hard to go wrong.  Yet despite the simplicity of it all, the result was incredibly decadent, rich, and smooth, perfect for either a dinner party, Sunday meal, or quick weeknight dinner. 

It's also easily adaptable.  I made mine with tender, cooked kale, but you could substitute spinach, chicken, tomatoes and basil, or whatever vegetables you have in the fridge.  

To start, pour your wine.  Of course there isn't any in the recipe itself, but Sunday afternoon cooking calls for a cold glass of Chardonnay.

Next, prepare your ingredients.  The list is so short, you can count them on one hand.  Plus, they're things you usually have in the fridge.  This is my kind of recipe. 

First, prepare your kale.  Rinse it well and rip out the stems and any large veins.  Add it to a large pot or saucepan with 1/2 cup water.  Cook it over medium heat until it's wilted and tender, or about 5 - 10 minutes.  Drain the water and set aside.

Boil the pasta in salted water until al dente (according to the directions on the box).  Fettuccine would be the most traditional pasta to use, but anything will work. I used whole wheat angel hair since that's what I had on hand, which I like since it cooks so quickly.  Once it's cooked, save about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.  Drain the pasta in a colander and set it aside.

Now it's time for the best part, the sauce!  It will only take a couple of minutes.  In a large saucepan (you can use the same one in which you cooked the kale), melt the butter.  Add the cream, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.

Remove sauce from the heat and toss in the pasta, kale, pasta water, and cheese.  And that's it!  Time to enjoy.  I recommend serving it with a garden salad since the alfredo is so calorie rich.  That's if you can hold yourself back from devouring the pasta right away!

Pasta Alfredo with Kale
Adapted from Gourmet, October 2008

Makes 4 servings.

7 to 8 ounces dry pasta of your choice (1/2 box)
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 bunch kale

1. Rinse the kale, remove stems, and tear into bite-sized pieces.  Cook in a large pot over medium heat with 1/2 cup water until wilted and tender, 5-10 minutes.  Drain and set aside. 

2. Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water until al dente.  Remove 1/2 cup pasta water and set aside.  Drain the pasta.
3. In a large saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the heavy cream, salt, and pepper and bring to a simmer.  Toss in the pasta, kale, and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Serve hot, with a side salad. 

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