Now that my husband Ted has declared kale pesto his favorite, I'm finding other ways to use the basil I planted in my herb garden to make a winter's worth of pesto for the freezer, and I'm also finding other ways to work this kale version into my summer cooking. Pasta with kale pesto, shrimp and tomato won our hearts, and I can't wait to make it again with cherry tomatoes from the garden in a month or so. The surprising thing about kale pesto is that it doesn't taste like a dark leafy green at all; it's redolent with garlic and cheese, just like pesto Genovese made with basil, but the flavor is a bit lighter and brighter. If you prefer, omit the shrimp in this recipe, or substitute shredded rotisserie chicken to make an easy dish even easier.
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Old-fashioned curried chicken salad, the kind you find in the supermarket deli case, seldom floats my boat. Too much curry powder makes it bitter; too much celery overpowers the curry. Too much mayonnaise drowns it all. If that sounds familiar, then this curried chicken pasta salad with apricots and cashews just might restore your faith. Start with big chunks of chicken, add your favorite small pasta (I love the mini penne and mini bow ties), some crunchy Granny Smith apple, plump dried apricots, and cashews. Use mango-studded Major Grey's chutney in the dressing. Make all of the components ahead, and combine at the last minute for a very fresh, fruity, un-gloppy chicken salad.
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While cleaning out the freezer in The Perfect Pantry recently, I discovered some cooked pasta, half a bag of frozen peas, and a long-forgotten container of pesto made from the last of last summer's parsley (gosh, that's a lot of P in one sentence, isn't it?). In fact, my pantry offered up every ingredient for this dish of pasta with peas and parsley-walnut pesto. If you don't have homemade pesto tucked away in your freezer, use store-bought basil pesto, and you will be very happy. And if you prefer whole wheat or gluten-free pasta, use what you love. Be sure to use good white wine and real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese; when a recipe has just a few ingredients, your happiness depends on using the very best you can afford.
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When I was a little girl, I'd smother in ketchup anything I had to eat but didn't naturally love. As an adult, I prefer to do my smothering with good Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. I wish I could say that I naturally love broccoli, but I don't, though over the years I've discovered ways I can get more broccoli into my diet; Chinese stir-fries and pasta recipes with lots of cheese top the list. This dish of pasta bow ties with broccoli, white beans, pine nuts and feta incorporates two cheeses along with a healthy portion of broccoli and white beans. The tang of lemon and a good pinch of fresh black pepper brighten the flavor. I could eat broccoli this way every day!
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