Formerly a staple dietary ingredient in Britain in the Middle Ages, kale is making a comeback. Use it in pesto instead of basil as a tasty and nutritious green substitute in this classic spaghettini vongole.
1 bunch kale (about 12 leaves), trimmed and chopped
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
¼ cup olive oil
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, chopped
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
½ tsp chilli flakes
¼ cup parmesan, finely grated
1kg cockles, desanded
To make pesto, blanch kale in a large pot of salted boiling water and refresh in a bowl of ice water. Remove kale and let drain on paper towels.
Place kale, pine nuts, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, salt, and sugar in a food processor and pulse until a coarse paste forms. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
For spaghettini, heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs, chilli flakes, and parmesan and cook, stirring, for 5-7 minutes, or until golden. Set aside.
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water for 8-10 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and set aside, reserving ¼ cup of pasta water. Pour water back into the pot and bring to the boil. Add cockles and cook, covered, for 2-3 minutes, or until all cockles open (discard any unopened cockles). Add kale pesto and pasta back into the pot and toss to coat. Divide among 4 bowls and sprinkle over breadcrumb mixture.