The Encarta World English Dictionary defines a hippie as “a young person, especially in the 1960s, who rejected accepted social and political values and proclaimed a belief in universal peace and love.” This dish recalls the kinds of foods I ate during my own hippie days, when I rejected the unwritten law that real Americans were meat eaters and became a vegetarian. Farfalle is Italian for “butterfly,” and the name refers to the pasta shape sometimes called bow tie noodles in English. The Italian name reminds me of the pretty white moths that wreak havoc on my cabbage plants but seem to leave the kale alone. This is a good pasta dish for midsummer, perfect for a vegetarian respite from too many meals based on meat. The cheese, passed separately, is optional. Serve the pasta with a green salad and Focaccia.
- 1 gallon boiling water
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
- 1 pound dried penne
- ½ cup dried currants
- 1 bunch (1 pound) kale, preferably organically grown
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- Grated Parmesan cheese as an accompaniment (optional)
1. Put the water and 2 tablespoons salt in a large stockpot over high heat, and when the water comes to a full, rolling boil, add the pasta. Cook until the pasta is just tender, about 10 minutes, then drain it through a large strainer or a colander, saving a cup of the cooking water to pour over the dried currants. Spread the drained penne out on a lightly oiled baking sheet and allow to cool for a few minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. The pasta can be prepared ahead up to this point and finished later.
2. In a small bowl, pour the reserved cup of pasta water over the dried currants; let them stand in the water to soften while you prepare the other ingredients.
3. Cut the kale into a chiffonade. Roll the leaves into a cigarlike bundle, and with a large, sharp knife cut across the bundle in a rocking motion to produce ribbons about 1/8 inch wide.
4. Put the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and cook the pine nuts in the oil until they are fragrant and just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. (Watch closely; pine nuts burn quickly.) Add the sliced garlic and sauté until it is bubbling hot but not browned. Add the kale and sauté for 2 minutes, or until it is wilted.
5. Drain the currants and add them to the sautéed kale mixture, then toss the hot greens with the cooked pasta, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve, passing the grated Parmesan separately.