On some weeknights, it is impossible to pull together the willpower to cook a full blown dinner. Except for this dish, which I will gladly make. It’s a smart and delicious weeknight meal for a number of reasons. Shrimp is a quick cooking protein that does not require too much prep and de-frosts quickly. Kale is one of those dark leafy greens that can be stretched a good long while in the fridge – so even if I haven’t been to the market in a while or my CSA box is running low, there’s usually a bit of kale around. Summer tomatoes are beautiful – large, juicy globes of sweet and tart fruit. A single large tomato was able to provide us with all the sauciness needed for this dish – and it was just delicious. I normally hate tomatoes – typically watery, bland things… but not in summer. When they are THIS fresh and THIS good, you really need to pair them with complementary flavors and showcase these beauties.
Shrimp & Kale Summer Pasta
Source: Adapted from the NY Times
This dish is so easy, it really doesn’t need a recipe. I added a striped bell pepper for some additional sweetness, as well as fresh basil to really highlight this as a summer dish. Feel free to swap out with other vegetables you may have in your kitchen.
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch kale, de-ribbed, washed, dried, and cut into small strips
1 tsp oregano and/or thyme
1 large tomato, small dice
1 medium bell pepper, seeded and cubed [optional]
15-20 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined [I used size 16-21]
1/4 tsp sugar
salt, to taste
red pepper flakes, to taste
Handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly shredded [optional]
parmigiano reggiano or pecorino, for shaving [optional]
1 lb spaghetti or fettucine noodles
Fill a large pasta pot with water and bring to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions.
In the meantime, add a splash of olive oil to a large, heavy skillet and place over medium-high heat. Add the strips of dry kale and sautee until most of the liquid from the kale has evaporated and the kale has wilted to a soft texture. Add garlic and dried oregano and/or thyme, and stir-fy until fragrant without burning the garlic. Add more olive oil as needed. Then add the diced tomato, and cook down until a thick sauce forms, about 10 minutes. The tomato will caramelize and reduce. If using, also add diced bell pepper and allow to cook until softened. Lastly, add the shrimp, tossing until the shrimp is bright red and cooked through. If the sauce seems a bit dry, add a ladle of the pasta water and allow to incorporate and mix with the tomato mixture. Season with sugar, salt, and red pepper flakes to taste. Turn off heat, and toss drained pasta noodles into pan and twirl until noodles are covered in sauce. Top with fresh basil leaves and shaved/grated cheese, if using. Enjoy!
Again, this dish really doesn’t need a recipe so much as a process. During the winter, I’ll use canned tomatoes. Or sometimes if the fresh tomato isn’t quite flavorful enough, I’ll add some fresh lemon juice and zest for some zing. I could also easily swap out these veggies for an kale/asparagus/pea combination, which I think would also be good this time of year.
As of late, my kitchen countertop has been seeing fewer pots and pans and more vases and flowers. Not a bad thing, but certainly a bit different.
Thanks for reading,