This is a fast, easy, meal. Simple, but with complex flavors due to the combination of flavored pasta and seasonings. It’s also very colorful, lowfat, and nutritious. And did I mention it tastes good? I know some people aren’t crazy about kale, but if you season things right, the greens don’t overwhelm the other flavors. Greens. I added kale to this simply because I saw some nice looking bunches of lacinato kale at the store. You could do something like this with any type of greens that are in season, though, of course it would taste different depending on what you added and you would almost certainly have to adjust the seasonings to complement the alternative additions. Why throw in greens at all? It’s fast, easy, and nutritious. Greens of various types can be added to a lot of things pretty easily simply because they cook quickly. They’re leaves. It doesn’t take much to cook them. Most of these ingredients are staples that you may have on hand in the pantry anyway, so grab a handful of fresh kale and you’ve got bright delicious meal. The secret of this dish is in the pasta and the seasonings.
I served this light sauce over Al Dente’s Red Chile Fettucine. It is spicy. If you use some other non-spicy pasta, you should probably add a little bit of hot pepper such as cayenne or Hungarian hot paprika to give it the missing spiciness.
Speaking of paprika…I recently discovered smoked paprika at Penzys and that’s the other secret ingredient in this dish. The first time I used it I went waaaaay overboard, so this time I used a more modest amount. If you want to really ramp up the smoky flavor use a bit more than I did. The smoky paprika when combined with the other seasonings and spicy fettuccine noodles is subtle in the amount I used.
I also kept the dish light using garlic powder instead of sauteing garlic in oil. The “sauce” is very thin and there’s not much of it. Mostly it’s pasta, tomatoes, kale, and griller strips. If you want more of a traditional red pasta sauce — or to increase the amount of servings — try adding a 15 oz can of tomato sauce in addition to the can of diced tomatoes. (You will need to increase the seasoning, if you increase the amount of sauce.) Alternately, when the weather warms up and there are tomatoes galore, you could make this with chopped fresh tomatoes.
This makes three generous (big bowl) servings or four more modest servings.
- 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
- 3/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/4 garlic powder
- pinch of salt
- Lacinato kale, washed and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 bag of Simple Truth griller strips
- Al Dente’s Red Chile Fettucine
While water for pasta is coming to a boil (use a big pot), simmer the diced tomatoes and seasonings on low-ish heat, in a medium (or large) saucepan, covered. The saucepan needs to be significantly bigger than the amount of sauce because you’ll be adding kale and griller strips — and you need to be able to stir without slinging bits of kale all over the kitchen. (Been there, done that.)
You don’t need to simmer very long before you add the kale, stirring it in and then covering the pot again. When the kale has wilted a bit, add a half bag of griller strips, stirring in. Since these are frozen, it will bring the temp down, so stir it quite a bit and make sure the strips have sufficient time to thaw and cook. It doesn’t need much cooking time, but it does need to heat up first!
By now the pasta water should be boiling. Or not. The pasta only takes 3 minutes to cook, so don’t fidget over how long it takes the water to come to a boil. Just keep the pot of sauce covered and the heat under it low, stirring occasionally, so it doesn’t stick or cook completely away. Remember: there won’t be much actual sauce. It’s mostly going to be veg and griller strips.
When the pasta is done, drain, but do not rinse. Serve the tomato, kale, and griller strips over the hot spicy Red Chile Fettuccine pasta. Enjoy.