Food Memories of Ireland on St Patrick’s Day
St Patrick’s Day is around the corner and that makes me reminisce about my trip last June to the west coast of Ireland and the wild Atlantic Way. I have to say that Ireland is more than gorgeous and its people some of the most welcoming and gracious I have ever met and what surprised me most was the revolutionary food scene that is going on there. There was not one bad meal. The fish was delicate and prepared with superb care, the vegetables vibrant and tender and the lamb, well, the lamb speaks for itself. Irish tea in the afternoon is such a civil activity with warm scones and jam and the most delicious macaroons I have ever tasted, cloaked in crunchy beautifully browned coconut, that I think it should be mandatory meditation for everyone.
And if you are thinking of what to have for St Patrick’s Day, corned beef and cabbage will be cooking away in many Irish homes but if you want to add a non-Irish dish, choose this vibrant green bow tie pasta with kale sauce from my latest book CIAO ITALIA (MY Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy). After all, a lot of research contends that St Patrick was not born in Ireland but in Scotland around 375AD. But heck, we are all Irish on St Patrick’s Day!
Bow Ties with Kale Sauce
¼-cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup thinly sliced leeks, white part only
2-cloves garlic, minced
1 pound kale, leaves only, washed and shredded
Grated zest of one large lemon
½-pound rigatoni, farfalle or fusilli
¾-cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Salt to taste
In a medium saute’ pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat; stir in the leeks and cook just until they begin to wilt; stir in the garlic and continue cooking just until it softens. Cover and keep warm.
Fill a 4-quart pot with water and bring to a boil. Stir in the salt. Add the kale and cook until the kale wilts. Use a slotted spoon or spider to drain and transfer the kale to the saute’ pan. Mix it well with the leek mixture.
Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor. Cook the pasta in the same pot until al dente. It should be cooked through but not mushy; if the pasta does not hold its shape, it is overcooked.
Remove ¼-cup of the cooking water and set aside. Drain the pasta and transfer it back to the pot.
Process the kale mixture adding 2-tablespoons of the reserved water. The sauce should have a smooth but not too thin consistency. If the sauce is too thin, add a little more water. It should have the consistency of heavy cream.
Add the sauce to the pot with the pasta; stir well to combine over low heat until it is hot. Add the lemon zest and cheese and mix well. Salt to taste.