dino pasta with dino kale + roasted almond pesto


One of my favorite things about pesto, besides the fact that you can make it with pretty much anything, is that it's one of those dishes that tastes fancy but takes about two full seconds to make. Seriously, in the time it can take you to cook a pot of pasta (or rice, or maybe even roasted potatoes would be good), you can have an intensely flavorful, satisfying dinner.

Made even better, of course, if you happen to have cute-shaped pasta that looks like dinosaurs and are made in bronze casts in Brooklyn, NY. Because then you can do fun combos like apastasaurous noodles with dino kale pesto and then everything is tasty AND funny, which is pretty much the best way to do anything.

Dino kale (also called Tuscan, Italian or Lacinato kale) is actually my kale of choice, though I've never been known to turn down the dark green stalks in any variety. It's a little bit sweeter than its curly counterparts and, in my opinion, just a tad easier to work with, massage and break down. But of course, you could use any sort of kale (or chard or spinach or carrot tops or traditional basil) for this recipe and it will all still come out amazing.

For this recipe, you'll need:

1 pound of pasta, preferably in a super-fun shape though we'll forgive you if you're the plain penne type
4-6 large stalks of dino kale
1 clove of garlic
1/2 cup of almonds, toasted
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

The end. That's seriously it. And when you taste the end result (or serve it to friends who come over for dinner), they might say something like, "I hope you didn't go to too much trouble," because it will totally seem like you did.

The first thing is to get your pasta water rolling. Salt a large pot of water and bring to a boil, cooking pasta according to package directions. In the meantime, you can quickly whip up your pesto sauce. In a food processor (though, as always, Italian-grandmother style is an option), pulse your kale, garlic and almonds (if you don't have them pre-toasted, about 8-10 minutes in a 400 degree oven will do the trick) until chopped but not completely puréed. Pesto with a little texture is always better. Transfer to a medium size bowl and stir in olive oil one tablespoon at a time until you've reached the desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. (Note, if you plan on adding Parmesan, go lighter on the salt. If you intend to keep this pesto vegan, salt away.)

Okay, now, the end, that's seriously it. Drain your al dente pasta, return to pot and stir in the pesto. Serve immediately. Eat with a big, toothy dinosaur smile. I'm pretty sure that's the only way we can allow such silliness.