On Thursday night, we were supposed to have Food & Wine’s Barbecue Shrimp. The bad news is, we forgot to take the shrimp out of the freezer before we left for work. The good news is, that meant we could have Food & Wine’s Rigatoni with Lemony Kale-and-Pecorino Pesto. This was the very first recipe in the Food & Wine cookbook that our friend Manon, who joined us for our podcast dinner with Wines by the Flask and took all the great photos for that post, was nice enough to give us. Tony made the pesto Sunday afternoon, so all we had to do was make the pasta on Thursday. Here’s how the whole process went, from pesto making to pasta eating:
There was not a lot of prep involved with this recipe, which was nice. I removed the stems from the kale using the shortcut we use when we make Barbecued Chicken with Short-Cut Collard Greens. (The photos below are of collard greens, but you get the idea.)
I then zested one lemon and grated up about half a cup of Pecorino Toscano cheese, which is a little softer and a little less salty than Pecorino Romano.
I had put a pot of water on to boil before starting the prep work and also filled a bowl with water and ice cubes. I boiled the kale for about one minute, drained it in a colander, and transferred the kale to the ice bath. It cooled pretty quickly, at which point I drained it again, laid it out on the cutting board, and gave it a rough chop.
I transferred the kale to a food processor, added the garlic and pine nuts, and pulsed everything until it was pretty well chopped. I added the oil and processed until the pesto was smooth, then transferred it to a bowl, at which point I added the Pecorino and lemon zest, plus salt and pepper.
On Thursday night, we made the rigatoni per the instructions on the box. We drained it in a colander and transferred it back to the pot as the recipe instructs. We turned the heat to medium-low and added about two-thirds of the pesto to the pasta (we wanted to save a little bit to have again) and cooked it for about two minutes. While the pasta was cooking, Kim chopped up some dried Calabrian chiles that we planned to use as garnish. (The recipe said to use Aleppo peppers, but we have a boatload of Calabrian chiles and this was a good chance to use about 1% of our total stash.) We plated the pasta, sprinkled on the chiles, and sat down to dinner.
The pesto was really wonderful; it was garlicky and just the tiniest bit bitter, which was a nice touch. The pasta was cooked perfectly al dente and mixing it in the pot with the pesto meant that every piece was coated evenly. We enjoyed the pesto a lot; the only change we might make when we have the rest is to grate some lemon zest on top to bring out the lemon flavor in the pesto a bit more. The chilies added a nice bit of heat without being overwhelming. The 2013 Claudio Morelli Bianchello Del Metauro suggested by our friends at Wines by the Flask was a great pairing for this dish. It was light and crisp with enough acid to cut through the oil in the pesto and enough fruitiness to stand up to the garlic.