Whole Wheat Pasta with Kale, Carmelized Onions & Parsnips
While we are having a warm early October in the Bay Area (it was in the mid-80s this weekend), I can't help getting into the mood for fall. Squash, pumpkins, autumn greens, and root vegetables are starting to pop up at our local farmer's market in Menlo Park. I wanted to make something for dinner that was a little lighter given the warm weather while incorporating some fall ingredients.
I ended up adapting this recipe from one I found by Jeanne Kelley, substituting whole wheat pasta to amp up the protein and adding chanterelle mushrooms, which is optional, but were available at the farmer's market for a very reasonable price. I used baby parsnips that were available at the market, but you can find regular parsnips at the grocery store, and I used lacinato kale, which I think has the best texture for this recipe, but any variety of kale would be fine.
Pasta with Kale, Carmelized Onions, and Parsnips
Serves approx. 4 people
Extra virgin olive oil
Approx. 1 lb. parsnips, peeled and cut diagonally into 1/3'' slices
1 large red onion (or 2 small), thinly sliced
1 T. chopped fresh thyme or 1 t. dried thyme
4 garlic cloves, roughly minced
1/2 c. dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1 large bunch kale, chopped (discard ends of stems)
1/2 c. vegetable broth (or if you don't have any on hand, use an additional 1/4 c. wine and 1/4 c. water)
8 to 12 oz. whole wheat penne (depending on how big of eaters you are - I used approx. 3 cups of dried penne which was enough for a hearty dinner and leftovers the next day)
3/4 c. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (freshly grated or shaved)
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 c. chanterelle mushrooms, roughly chopped (optional)
Heat 1 T. of the olive oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Add parsnips to pan and cook approximately 10 minutes or until tender and browned, stirring occassionally, and season with a pinch of salt. Place in a large bowl (which you'll use to mix all of the ingredients together later) and keep warm.
Meanwhile, heat another 1 T. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt (which helps the onions cook down) and cook for approximately 20 minutes or until tender and golden brown.
Start the water for the pasta and salt the pasta water generously. Cook pasta according to directions.
Meanwhile, Stir in the thyme and garlic to the pan with the onions and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occassionally. Add white wine to pan and cook for another 2-3 minutes until liquid is almost all absorbed. Stir in the kale and broth (or wine/water) and cook, covered, for 5 minutes or until kale is tender, stirring once or twice. Uncover and reduce heat to low, cooking another 4 minutes or so until kale is very tender, stirring occassionally. Season with salt and pepper.
If using chanterelle mushrooms, in the pan used for the parsnips, melt 1 t. butter over medium heat. Saute the mushrooms for approximately 3-4 minutes or until tender and season with salt and pepper.
Reserve 3/4 c. of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta. The cooking water will help bind all of the ingredients together and create a sauce. Add the pasta to the large bowl with the parsnips and add the kale and onion mixture as well as the mushrooms, if using. Add 1/2 c. of the cheese, 1 t. salt, and 1/2 t. pepper, and pour the pasta water over the mixtures, stirring well to combine. Serve with additional Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
I love to cook and focus on incorporating local and seasonal ingredients into healthy dishes. I am not a strict vegetarian and do eat sustainable seafood, grass-fed beef, pastured pork and chicken on occasion, which are better for our health and the environment. However, this blog focuses on vegetarian meals which make up the bulk of my diet in an effort to show all of you how to incorporate more vegetarian dishes into your life. I do have a full-time job, so I try to create dishes that can be prepared in an hour or less on the weeknights. I hope to inspire others to make meals that are good for you and the planet.