PASTA WITH LACINATO KALE, MAITAKE MUSHROOMS & FLAX SEED
Pasta, kale, mushrooms and flax seed. Super simple yet a dish I keep coming back to again and again through the years. All the parts work incredibly well together and in a way that just makes sense and feels right. Lacinato kale is a variety of kale that has a long-standing tradition in Italian cuisine, making it immensely popular for a pasta dish. With its earthy and robust flavor, it is the perfect culinary partner for mushrooms. Don’t have maitakes? Don’t worry. Use shiitakes or cremini mushrooms for equally wonderful results. Honestly, any mushroom from Primordia Mushroom Farm will make a happy pasta. Save all your mushroom stems to make a delicious stock that will elevate this dish to another level. A few other aromatic ingredients including green garlic, rosemary, and red pepper flakes round out the dish while a final flourish of ground flax seeds will give your pasta a nutty flavor and a boost of ant-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids.
- While you prepare all the ingredients, place a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil.
- To prepare the Kale, strip the leaves from the stem and chop into 1” square pieces.
- With a small knife, remove the mushroom stems (and reserve for making stock). Gently pull the maitakes apart into small bite-sized pieces.
- Gather the rest of your ingredients and keep close by. This pasta comes together rather quickly so you want to make sure you have everything ready before you begin building the pasta.
- Place a medium, heavy bottomed pot on a medium high heat. You always want to preheat your pan when cooking mushrooms. After 5 minutes, add your sunflower oil to the pan along with the mushrooms. Allow them to sear for 2 minutes undisturbed. Once they take on a little color, gently stir the mushrooms in the pan. Add a couple pinches of salt. Continue to cook until mushrooms take on a golden-brown hue and are softened.
- At this point, turn your heat down to medium. Add the green garlic, chopped rosemary and chili flakes. Toast until aromatic. About 1 minute. Add your chopped kale and more oil if it seems too dry. Salt your kale and continue to cook until wilted, about 5 minutes.
- Make sure to season your pasta water with salt and then cook your pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain pasta and reserve 2 cups of pasta water.
- Add stock (or pasta water) to the kale-mushroom mixture along with the butter. Turn the heat up to high and continue to cook until kale is tender, and a creamy sauce begins to form. Add your cooked pasta to the sauce and stir to coat in the sauce. You want to cook the pasta in the sauce for about 2 minutes. If it dries out, simply add a little more stock or pasta water.
- Turn off the heat. Grate a good bit of cheese and add half of the flax seeds. Add a few splashes of vinegar and taste. Add more salt or vinegar, if needed. Dump pasta into a big bowl. Drizzle with a little more sunflower oil, grate on more cheese and add the remaining flax seed.
Michael Joyce is a Philly-based chef and local food advocate. Spending his career in kitchens devoted to seasonality and sustainability such as Blue Hill, Bolete Restaurant and most recently Barbuzzo. He believes that cooking through the seasons and as close to the source as possible, is not only satisfying and inspiring, but critical to the health of our local communities.