One of my favorite ways to use seasonal produce is to make a simple sauce to toss pasta, gnocchi, or tortellini in. The possibilities are endless when you realize that basil isn't the only option when making a pesto-like sauce. Some great options are butternut squash in the fall, maybe even avocado in the summer, and some end-of-winter kale. Also, what better way to celebrate St. Patrick's day than eating something completely green!
This roasted garlic and kale sauce is super flavorful and also becomes the brightest green color from the blanched kale. You'll start by roasting the garlic. I have always had a slight fear of roasted garlic, as I could never understand how even if it was roasted, it could possibly be appropriate to include a *whole* clove, let alone more than one. Ever since I've tried roasting it though, my opinion has totally changed. It takes on a sweeter and milder flavor and I kid you not, you might find yourself just popping in a clove while you're making this.
Next you'll want to blanch your kale. This step is super important, because after you submerge the kale in boiling water you'll notice after a few minutes it will turn the most beautiful and bright green. Once wilted, you'll want to immediately transfer it to a bowl of iced water which will preserve the color.
Then it's as easy as blending your roasted garlic, kale, and a few other ingredients in a food processor or blender. In my opinion, this part is super satisfying and fun. Once you first start blending, it will look a bit more like pesto, but after a minute or two it will come together into this smooth, bright green, sauce. Pour it into a medium to large sized bowl and set aside while you make the tortellini.
Once the tortellini are cooked, save a little pasta water, and drain and immediately transfer the tortellini to the bowl with the kale sauce, and get tossing. Don't be afraid to really stir and get the sauce in all the nooks and crannies of the tortellini. If you need to thin the sauce a bit, you can add some of the reserved pasta water. After you admire your lovely green tortellini, make sure to top with lots of grated parmesan, salt and pepper, and even some fresh lemon zest if you like.
Bright, green, healthy and flavorful, this is the winter to spring recipe you need.
The simplest, healthy, roasted garlic sauce, brightened up with the greenest kale tortellini.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Chop ends off of heads of garlic and peel outer layers, leaving enough to keep cloves intact. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper.
3. Place on baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Roast for 35-45 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil and set aside another bowl filled with ice water. Add kale to boiling water and stir for 1-2 minutes until kale turns bright green and wilts. Remove from pot and place in ice water. Drain and using a paper towel, pat kale dry.
5. Take heads of garlic and squeeze out approximately 8 cloves. Add cloves, kale, lemon juice, kosher salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon olive oil, grated parmesan, and 1/4 cup water to blender. Blend until smooth, adding additional water if needed. Pour sauce into a large bowl and set aside.
6. Cook tortellini according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, drain tortellini, and immediately add to large bowl with sauce. Stir until tortellini are coated in sauce, adding reserved pasta water to thin sauce if needed.
7. Top with additional parmesan and black pepper, and lemon zest if desired, and serve immediately.
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