aOne of the strongest recipes to have appeared in the US in recent years is Joshua McFadden’s Kale Sauce Pasta, in which 450g cavolo nero is transformed into a very tasty jade-colored pasta sauce. It’s impressive on so many levels: the sheer size of the greens, as a starter, its simplicity and the excellent flavor (which is partly, I think, because of the Parmesan). I’ve made it a few times, but without the parmesan, add some fennel, pepper and miso. Like all of my best recipes, it has taken on new life in my kitchen, and thanks to Joshua, I’d like to share my adaptation with you.
Miso butter pasta
You will need a blender and a very large bowl with a lid to make this dish. If you buy pre-sliced cavolo nero or kale, the stems are more likely to be tender; If you buy them whole, or if the stems are more than 1cm thick, you will need to strip off the leaves (do this by simply holding tightly and running through the stem) and chop them by hand. Either compost the stems or freeze them to add to vegetable broth or soups.
to equip 10 minutes
cook 45 minutes
60 grams of unsalted vegetable butter – I love Flora
5 garlic clovesPeeled and chopped
Half a teaspoon of fennel seeds
½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes
100 grams of broccolichopped
400 grams of black cabbageor kale leaves, leaves removed and cut into strips
Half a teaspoon of salt
2½ tablespoons of white miso
40 ml olive oil
500 grams of orecchiette
Chili oilor extra virgin olive oil, to finish – I like Lee Kum Kee’s, widely available in supermarkets
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When it boils, add the garlic, fennel seeds, and chili flakes, and sauté, stirring, for two to three minutes, until the aroma of the garlic changes from raw to cooked and a bit like garlic bread.
Add the broccoli, the cavolo nero, 250ml water and the salt, stir (this will be tough, but it is persistent), cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring every few minutes, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the greens have wilted and are just tender.
Scrape all contents of cavulo nero skillet into blender/food processor, add miso and olive oil, and mix with smooth sauce, scraping down sides as necessary; Add a little water, if needed, to make a silky smooth sauce (I added about four tablespoons).
Rinse the greens pot, fill it with water (don’t over salt; the miso is already salty, and you can always adjust the seasoning later) and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package, and when it takes a minute, gently place cup in water and scoop out a good amount of the starchy cooking water. Drain the pasta, return it to the pot and add the sauce and stir in five or six tablespoons of the cooking water until you get the consistency you want. Taste and add salt, if needed.
Serve in shallow bowls topped with a good drizzle of chili oil.