Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Spaghetti with Kale, Sardines, Avocado and Lemon-Caper Sauce

A little while back, I put together a quick pan sauce with onions, garlic, capers and lemon juice. Since then, I've been using it in different ways, as I can't get enough of the savory, lemon-spiked flavor. With some leftover kale, creamy avocado and ultra-nutritious sardines, I came up with a pasta dish that just rocks.

It's kind of a "rule" not to use cheese with seafood pastas. I've broken that rule before, but with this dish, cheese didn't seem to fit. Instead, I topped it with breadcrumbs made crisp and toasty in a little olive oil. This is an addictive, healthy bowl of food. Heaven with a dry rosé if that floats your  boat!

Spaghetti with Sardines, Kale, Avocado and Lemon-Caper Sauce
This recipe is a bit fussy because it requires multiple elements that are combined at the very end to make one incredibly tasty bowl of pasta. So. If all this sounds daunting, make the kale ahead of time. You can also make a double batch of kale one night and reserve half to make this dish.

Serves 2, easily doubled

For kale:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small bunch (or a little less) Tuscan kale, ribbed and chopped
2 cloves garlic
Red pepper flakes

For sauce:
1 tbsp olive oil
½ small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup good-tasting chicken broth
1 tbsp drained capers
Juice of half a lemon or taste

For breadcrumbs:
2 tsp olive oil
¼ cup whole wheat panko, or any breadcrumbs

3 tbsp chopped sundried tomatoes
1 1/2 to 2 tins sardines packed in water, bones removed if desired
4 to 5 oz whole wheat spaghetti
½ small avocado (or to taste), chopped
lemon wedges for serving

1) For the kale, steam or boil until tender. Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium-low heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook 1 minute. Add kale and toss well. Season with salt and pepper and cook, tossing to blend, for about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. May be done up to 2 days ahead.

2) Make the sauce: Heat the oil in a medium skillet on medium-high heat. Add onion, season with salt (sparingly) and black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add broth and bring to a simmer. Cook until reduced by about one third. Add capers and lemon juice, simmer for 30 seconds and transfer to a small bowl.

3) Wipe out the skillet and make the breadcrumbs: Heat the oil on medium heat. Add panko, season sparingly with salt and black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until panko turns golden brown and smells toasted, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

4) Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti to al dente. About 1 minute before draining, dip a glass measuring cup into the pasta water and scoop out approximately ½ cup of the water; set aside.

5) To serve, toss spaghetti, kale, sauce, sundried tomatoes, sardines and avocado together (you can do this in the saucepan you used to cook the pasta, or in the individual serving bowls you are using). Moisten with reserved pasta water if desired. Sprinkle each serving with breadcrumbs and serve with lemon wedges.

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