Today: Don't try too hard at dinner tonight. Call it an evening with a simple Kale Pesto Orecchiette and gin cocktail to wash it down.
On most days, we love coming home from work and dedicating the rest of the evening to preparing a thoughtful, delicious meal. Then there are the days when we'd rather coast through dinner and spend the evening on our non-culinary interests (yes, we do have a few). But we don’t want to forgo a well-made dinner, either—and there’s no need to with this not-so-traditional pesto pasta.
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To make it, grab a few bunches of kale from the market and blend it into pesto. The recipe even makes enough pesto for several servings, so you can freeze a container to defrost on a future lazy evening. Cook any pasta you want, but use orecchiette if the idea of pools of pesto and cheese cupped in pasta shells excites you (we thought it might). Wash it all down with a Gin Hound—the grapefruit and lemon pairs wonderfully with the hearty kale pesto, and the gin will make you enjoy your post-dinner craft project/book/television show that much more.
Click through the recipe photos or titles to see (and save and print) the full recipes, or take advantage of our handy grocery list and overview below.
Makes 4 servings of pesto pasta and 2 cocktails, plus 1 container of pesto to freeze for later
2 bunches (about 2 cups) lacinato kale, stems removed and roughly chopped 1 yellow onion, diced Juice of 1/2 a lemon plus 1 tablespoon 3/4 cup fresh squeezed grapefruit juice 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 1 pound (1 box) orecchiette pasta 4 ounces gin 1 ounce sweet vermouth
We're assuming you have salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, garlic, and olive oil. If not, be sure to add those to your list, too.
Thirty minutes before dinnertime, sauté the onion, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper for a few minutes in olive oil before adding the kale and Dijon mustard. While the onions cook, boil the pasta in heavily salted water. Cook until the kale is soft, then place the mixture in a food processor to combine with Parmesan, lemon juice, white vinegar, salt, pepper, and additional olive oil, tasting and adjusting as you go.
When you've got about 10 minutes before the pasta is finished, so shake up a Gin Hound. Toss the cooked pasta with the kale pesto, serve the cocktail over the rocks, and take it easy—you've got the rest of the night ahead of you.
Photos by James Ransom and Mark Weinberg
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).