Buckwheat Pasta With Kale
This is a healthier, pared-down version of a rich, hearty dish from the Lombardy region of Italy that normally is made with buckwheat pasta (pizzoccheri), cabbage, potatoes, and abundant butter and cheese. You can substitute Japanese soba for the pizzocheri; if you can find neither, use whole wheat fettuccine.
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (or omit butter and use 2 tablespoons olive oil)
- 2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced and cleaned
- 4 fresh sage leaves, cut in thin slivers
- Salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste
- 3/4 pound kale, stemmed, washed thoroughly, and cut crosswise in strips
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 ounces Parmesan, grated (1/2 cup)
- 2 ounces fontina or Gruyère cheese, cut in 1/4 inch dice
- 3/4 pound buckwheat pasta (pizzoccheri or soba) or whole wheat fettuccine
1. Begin heating a large pot of water. Meanwhile, heat the butter and oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and sage, and cook, stirring often, until the leeks begin to soften, about three minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, and continue to cook, stirring often, until the leeks are tender, about five minutes. Remove from the heat.
2. When the water comes to a boil, add a generous spoonful of salt and the kale. Boil for four minutes, until tender but still bright. Using a slotted spoon or a skimmer, transfer to the pan with the leeks and stir together. Keep warm over low heat.
3. Bring the water back to a boil, and add the pasta. Cook al dente (soba will cook quickly, usually in under five minutes, while pizzoccheri and whole wheat fettuccine will take longer). When the pasta is al dente, add 1/2 cup of the cooking water to the pan with the kale and leeks, then drain the pasta and toss in the pan or in a warm pasta bowl with the leeks, kale and the cheeses. Serve at once.
Yield: Serves four to six
Advance preparation: You can make the dish through step 2 several hours ahead. Remove from the heat, then reheat when you cook the pasta.