New York is in full bloom. Dogwood, cherry blossoms, violets, geraniums, marigolds, tulips, daffodils, begonias, and lilacs burst forth onto the sidewalks, filling the air with color and good smells. Once again my windows are pushed wide open and my sandals have made their way out of the closet. (My dresser, however, still bulges with my heaviest sweaters and I haven’t really put away my snow boots. Wasn’t it freezing last week?) I’ve been reveling in the warm weather and plentiful hours of daylight, and craving nature like crazy. Still, it’s all a bit bittersweet. April and May bring their annual jarring heartache– and yet I cannot even begin to comprehend the turmoil that must be Nepal. It is a terrible, terrible reminder of every cliché about appreciating what you’ve got. To not only practice gratitude but embrace it. I’m working on it.
A huge part of nourishing our souls is taking good care of our bodies. I can’t think of any food more comforting than a big bowl of pasta, especially when topped with garlicky greens. Walnuts provide protein, omega-3 fats, antioxidants, and earthy richness; lemon brings the sunshine.
*If your kale seems very tough (like if you’ve had it awhile), you might want to boil it first (before braising), for about 5 minutes.
1 12-oz package pasta
½ cup walnuts, chopped
4-6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 bunch of kale, rough stems removed, chopped
salt and black pepper, to taste
zest and juice from ½ medium lemon
extra lemon slices for serving, optional
- Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, in a large pan, heat walnuts over medium heat, keeping a close watch, until toasty and fragrant, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer nuts to a bowl and set aside, and carefully wipe the pan with a dry towel.
- Add a bit of olive oil to pan and cook garlic and red pepper flakes over medium-low heat for a few minutes, watching closely and agitating pan frequently until fragrant.
- Stir in kale and splash with some water. Cover, turn heat up to medium-high, and cook for about 12 to 14 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water as necessary to keep from burning. Lightly charred in spots is ideal. When kale is done, add the lemon juice and season with salt and black pepper.
- Mix the kale and the drained pasta, sprinkle on the lemon zest and walnuts, and drizzle with a tiny bit more olive oil. Serve garnished with lemon slices if desired.
Yield: About 4 servings