Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Black Cabbage Pasta (no cheese)

This is adapted from a recipe that my cousin Gaby taught me, many years ago in Tuscany. I think of her whenever I cook it, which is often because it is so delicious.

Use as many organic ingredients as possible.

A bunch of Cavolo Nero or Kale
At least three cloves of garlic
Half a red chilli or a pinch of dried chilli flakes
A big handful of flat-leaf parsley
Splash of fish sauce
Half a tin of salted anchovies
Plenty of extra virgin olive oil
A fistful of pine nuts
Pasta of your choice (I think this sauce works well with penne)

With a big knife, shred the Cavolo Nero or kale into strips about the width of a matchstick. If the stalks are tough and stringy, cut them away from the leaves before shredding (you can keep the tough stalks and put them in the juice extractor as part of your next green juice). If the stalks are tender, simply shred them along with the leaves.

Put a pan of salted water on to boil for the pasta.

Pour a good splosh of olive oil (at least three or four tablespoons) into a heavy based saucepan and add the shredded leaves. Put the lid on and place the pan on a very low heat. The aim is to sweat the kale, rather than to fry it. After about five minutes, turn the leaves and put the lid back on. Five minutes late, turn them again.

Put the pasta into the other pan, which should now be full of boiling water.

Finely chop the garlic and de-seeded chilli. Add them to the leaves along with a couple of shakes of fish sauce and the anchovies. Put the lid back on.

Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan, shaking them all the time until they are golden brown.

Coarsely chop the parsley.

Take the lid off the kale. By now your leaves should have cooked down into a rich green mass. The garlic will be soft and translucent and the anchovies will have melted away. Add more olive oil, stirring all the time. Keep slowly adding oil and stirring until the sauce doesn’t seem to absorbing the oil anymore. You will probably have added about a quarter of a cup of olive oil to the sauce by now. Throw in the parsley, stir it through and put the lid back on the pan.

Drain the pasta. Mix the sauce through the pasta. Serve it up and top each bowl with a generous sprinkling of toasted pine nuts.