Here, Tuscan kale (also known as black kale, dino kale and cavolo nero) adds freshness and a healthy dose of greens to this pasta dish, one of our favorites for a meatless Monday meal. Fresh ricotta makes a super-easy and satisfying sauce; look for it at Italian delis and upscale markets. Avoid using mass-marketed ricotta cheese; you need the real thing for this sauce.
Penne with Ricotta Cheese and Greens
- Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 bunch Tuscan kale or other hearty greens, thick stems trimmed, leaves cut crosswise into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces
- 6 to 8 oz. (180 to 250 g) dried penne, preferably multigrain
- 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
- 1/2 cup (2 oz./50 g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese
1. Bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the kale and boil until the greens are just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a skimmer or a slotted spoon, transfer the greens to a colander and drain. Return the water in the pot to a boil, add the pasta, stir well and cook until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), about 10 minutes.
2. Scoop out 1 cup (8 fl. oz./500 ml) of the pasta cooking water and reserve. Drain the pasta in the same colander with the greens. Return the pasta to the pot, press on the greens to remove some of the excess water and add the greens to the pot. Add the olive oil, thyme, shallot and lemon zest and toss to coat. Mix in the Parmigiano-Reggiano and ricotta cheeses. If the mixture is dry, add enough of the reserved pasta cooking water to moisten. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Divide between warmed plates and serve immediately. Serves 2.
Recipe adapted from Williams Sonoma Weeknight Fresh & Fast, by Kristine Kidd