quick eats: whole wheat pasta + kale walnut pesto

Kale Walnut Pesto
This week amidst one of many conference calls I took in a remote hotel room I found myself uttering the words, I need to think about my life. I didn’t realize that I’d said this out loud, but I did, and I’m realizing saying this right now means something. Because everything means something even if we don’t know it. Even if we’re trying to deny it. Part of me is battling a tension between my life now and where it could be in a year or two year’s time, and right now, at this moment, I feel very much stuck in the betweens.

So while I sort out all this mess, I’m taking comfort in keeping the rest of my world simple. Easy eats, quiet nights, close friends…

2 cups baby kale, packed
1 cup basil leaves, packed
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp panko (or bread crumbs)
Salt/pepper to taste
Optional: 1/4 cup grated gruyere cheese
1 lb whole wheat penne or rotini

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While your water is coming to a boil, blitz in a food processor the kale, basil, garlic, and walnuts until it’s a thick, clumpy paste. Stream in the olive oil and add salt/pepper to taste. Set aside.

Once the water is bubbling, add in a handful of kosher salt. Add the pasta and stir and cook until al dente (1-2 minutes under your package instructions. Once the pasta is done, drain and toss in with the pesto and panko, and add grated cheese or additional walnuts if you’re keen on more flavor.


Kale Walnut Pesto

dinner on the deck: kale pesto pasta + strawberry + raspberry arugula salad

Over the years I’ve become a woman who cares more about the quality and depth of my relationships than the velocity at which I acquire them. I remember a time when I was heartbroken, downright devastated, if a certain number of people didn’t attend a party I’d hosted. There was always a magic number. Tonight will be fine, just fine, if only 30 people would show up. Any less than 30 and I’d feel like a failure, because I was desperately in need of affection and acceptance, a need to feel cool.

Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve gotten older, but numbers don’t mean much anymore. When you allow yourself to settle in stillness, you realize that you’ve spent your life knee-deep in white noise when you’d rather skirt the edges of the things, the periphery. The quiet tends to amplify all of one’s insecurities and needs, and it took me years to realize that the time I spend with fewer people is infinitely more impactful than being in the eye of the storm. And suddenly my relationships evolved into something magical, long-lasting, because I spent time with people rather than passed it.

On a whim I planned a farm-to-table dinner with an old friend, Sarah. She promised to bring the yummy dessert (almond yoghurt infused with coconut parfait, mixed with luscious strawberry and rhubarb compote and homemade muesli), while I fixed a wheat-free meal. To say that we had a time is an understatement. WE HAD A TIME.

Onward! I fixed quinoa penne with kale pesto, a refreshing salad of arugula, strawberries, raspberries and pomegranate seeds, and a side of Moroccan lentils sweetened with carrots and dates. I invite you to indulge in some hearty pesto and spend time with those whom you love.

2 cup of mixed kale (I use curly kale + Lacinato), de-stemmed and chopped
1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds, lightly toasted in a dry pan
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
salt + pepper
6 oz of whole wheat penne pasta

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Plunge the kale leaves in the water for thirty seconds and then shock them in a bowl of cold water. This will halt the cooking process and ensure that your kale keeps its beautiful verdant hue. Drain in colander, then lay on a cloth towel to extract as much water as possible. Place in the bowl of a food processor with garlic and almonds. Add a generous pinch of salt and pulse briefly to combine and chop. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil until you achieve a loose pesto-like consistency with some texture remaining.

I love adding the pesto, with a slight drizzle of olive oil, at the bottom of a large bowl. Drain and cook the pasta al dente and then mix with the pesto. DIVINE.


STRAWBERRY + RASPBERRY ARUGULA SALAD INGREDIENTS (Inspired by Whole Foods’ Health Starts Here, but the recipe is purely my own)
4 cups arugula, packed
1 cup strawberries, stemmed and quartered
1/2 cup raspberries
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup basil, finely diced
2 tbsp juice of a lemon
2 tbsp juice of an orange
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Whisk the basil, juices, salt and pepper in one bowl. Add the leaves and fruit in another bowl. Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Toss + serve!