In honor of our little sister Candyce’s wedding, Danielle and I made a date to hang out this past Saturday morning. Since we couldn’t be with Candyce on her wedding day, It seemed appropriate that we should at least be to be together. Danielle had the brilliant idea of going to the big Portland Farmers Market downtown. I have dearly missed the farmers markets (as they close down during the winter), but Saturday was the grand re-opening of the big farmers market by PSU.
I had never been to this particular market, as I usually go to a smaller one in my neighborhood. I was completely and totally blown away by the PSU farmers market. There were so many amazing vendors and farms! So much to taste, smell, sample (and buy!). I quickly realized that I was ill-prepared with my meager $5 in cash, and set about finding an ATM as I knew I would be buying much more than $5 worth of goods. After much deliberation, I ended up with a few potatoes, a beautiful (and huge!) leek, a big bunch of kale, a few yellow onions, a quart of coconut and lentil soup (SO DELICIOUS) and a 4 pound leg of lamb from SuDan Farms. (Note: The lamb is for our Easter feast…to break the Lenten fast! I will write more on the lamb when I actually cook it).
Needless to say, I am thrilled that it is farmers market season again. I came home from the market and promptly whipped up a light & fresh dinner that was inspired by the kale I bought at the market. I had seen a few adaptations of this pistachio and kale pasta recipe on Tastespotting (though, the recipe is originally from 101 Cookbooks) and so I set about putting my own spin on the pasta. This recipe caught my eye as the sauce is made from pistachios, and I don’t believe I’ve ever had a sauce made from pistachios. It just soundeded different. And good. So I set about making it.
Each of the recipes I saw (the original and an adaptation) called for a fruit element – one tossed the pasta with pomegranate seeds, and another with dried cranberries. For whatever reason, I wasn’t terribly excited about the prospect of either of those ingredients and decided to brighten the whole dish with a hint of Meyer Lemon juice instead. If you ask me, it was a great decision. The dish is something akin to a cold pasta salad, but lighter and fresher than your typical heavy (and creamy) pasta salad. The pistachios add a beautiful color and a great nutty texture. The meyer lemon really brightened the whole dish, and rounded out the flavor. When I make this dish again (and I will. It was delish!), I think I will try adding in roasted asparagus and fresh parmesean. I think that would make this a nearly perfect meal.
Pasta with Pistachio & Meyer Lemon Sauce
(Adapted from 101 Cookbooks)
1 package of spinach (or whole wheat) pasta noodles (I used spaghetti)
1 (small) bunch of fresh kale, de-stemmed and roughly chopped.
3/4 cup of roasted (shelled) pistachios
The juice of 1 Meyer Lemon (or regular lemon, whatever you have on hand)
2 gloves of garlic, smashed
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
To make the sauce:
Blend the olive oil, garlic, pistachios, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes in a food processor until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste (if you use salted pistachios you may want to be careful not to oversalt). If the sauce is too thick, add small amounts of olive oil and lemon juice to thin the sauce to your desired consistency. If you like spice (like I do) feel free to add more black pepper and chili flakes.
For the pasta:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add in the pasta and cook according to the package directions. Once the pasta is ready, add in the chopped kale and immediately remove from the heat. Make sure the kale is immersed in the water (use tongs, fork, etc) and immediately strain the whole pot (noodles & kale) and then rinse with cold water (to ensure that the noodles don’t stick together). If serving immediately, try to pat the pasta and kale dry, so as not to have excess water. A salad spinner works for this, too!
Toss the pasta and kale mixture with the pistachio sauce. Serve cold (or room temperature).