Photo: Emma Alter
Mark Bittman had a terrific article in yesterday's Sunday New York Times about the myth that fast food is cheaper than nutritious meals you make at home. It wasn't anything new to me, as I've been proselytizing about cooking healthy, frugal meals at home since I started writing for TreeHugger and later Planet Green. My recipe today of pasta with kale and garlic is a perfect case in point.I have to admit that this dinner was really inexpensive for me because I was using kale and hot peppers from my garden and garlic from my neighbour's garden, but even if I had purchased the kale and garlic in the grocery store it still would have been a couple of dollars a person, for three of us for dinner. Kale is a powerhouse of a vegetable, so this was very healthy, and in the time it took for the pasta to cook, dinner was done. Not only that, it was incredibly delicious. Even my husband, who rolled his eyes at me when I said what we were having for dinner, went back for seconds.
This is a very garlicky recipe, so don't go to an important meeting or out on a first date after you've eaten it. I used about one bunch of kale for this, but not a whole head of garlic, because what I have is very strong. If you are nervous about how much heat you will get from the chili or the red pepper flakes, start with a little and add more until you are happy with the level of heat. I didn't have any spaghetti, so I used shells which worked perfectly. If you leave the Parmesan cheese off, this recipe is vegan.
Pasta with Greens and Garlic
1/2 lb spaghetti, or other shape of pasta
1/4 cup olive oil, more if necessary
1 head garlic, chopped finely
1 small bird's eye chili chopped finely, or red pepper flakes to taste
1 bunch of kale
1/3 cup bread crumbs (optional)
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large pot, put water on to boil. While the water is coming to a boil, finely chop a head of garlic. In a small skillet, slowly cook the garlic with some red pepper flakes in enough oil for the garlic to move around freely, stirring occasionally until it is pale golden, then remove it from the heat.
2. Add spaghetti (1/2 lb), and after 3 to 4 minutes, add kale. When the pasta is ready, scoop it with tongs into a serving bowl, then top it with the crispy golden garlic and oil, adding more fresh oil if needed. Mix in some bread crumbs, if using. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with shaved Parmesan, if using.