Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Post-baby pasta with kale, bacon and blistered tomatoes

Just over 7 weeks ago, I gave birth to our first child. Linley Rose arrived after 40 hours of labor and one crazy c-section. But I survived and love her despite the experience. I think it is an understatement to say that having a kid changes your life. Once you fumble through the fog of those first few weeks, you begin to try and grasp at familiar tasks of your old life, like eating and stuff. It took me 7 weeks to get back in the kitchen to even attempt to cook something fun and this still was a bit of a rush job due to my screaming monkey who began wailing as I was rounding third on dinner. But I was able to push through with the help of my faithful partner in parenting crime. Despite his lack of milk producing ducts on his chest, husband does a damn fine job of keeping our little bean happy. As such, I produced my first, post-baby meal. I call this a meal because heretofore I have had enough time to cook either a meat or a veg but not both. With this I managed to squeeze in both bacon AND kale and as such, a meal it is. We both gobbled up two bowls each of this wondrous dish. I'm pretty sure it tasted really good BUT given my entire body seems to live in the twilight zone of sleep deprivation, I'm not always sure of my senses these days. But anything with cheese, pasta and bacon has to be good, right?

PS - you could totally make this vegetarian by excluding the bacon and sauteing the kale in olive oil...I will refrain from asking the obvious question (who the heck doesn't eat bacon?) 

Kale, Bacon and Goat Cheese Pasta with Blistered Tomatoes
a girl and her kitchen

1 bunch kale, washed and chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
4 slices bacon
1 shallot, sliced
2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp sherry vinegar (optional)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb pasta (any shape)
6-8 oz goat cheese
salt and pepper
1 c reserved pasta cooking liquid

Set a pot of water on, add a good handful of salt and bring to a boil. Pre-heat oven to 350.

Toss tomatoes with sherry (if using), olive oil and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Lay out in a single layer on a sheet pan and cook in oven for 15 minutes until they begin to burst. Remove and set aside. Crumble once cool.

Cook the pasta according to package instructions. I tend to take mine out 1 minute shy of when the package says it's done. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water.

In a cast iron skillet or nonstick pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until brown and delightful. Remove bacon and let rest of paper towel lined plate. Leave 2 tbsp of the bacon grease in the pan and add the kale (Cook's Note: be sure to dry the kale very well. if you add water to hot grease, it will pop). Toss the kale to coat with the grease and add red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt. Turn the heat down to medium low and cook the kale 3 minutes. Add the shallot and toss well, continue cooking for shallot to soften (3-5 minutes).

When the pasta is done, drain the pasta and return to the pot. Add the kale mixture, tomatoes and bacon to the pasta and toss to combine. Add the goat cheese and pour the hot reserved pasta water on top of the goat cheese; stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and add salt or pepper as needed. Serve warm!

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