A spicy tomato and kale linguine of juicy sautéed tomatoes and kale. Customize it by adding your choice of protein or cheese!
Ah, pasta. Truly comfort food at its finest. When we went to Italy for the first time several years ago, I couldn’t get enough of the food. Everything was super fresh and full of flavor. The dishes were so simple with minimal ingredients. We came back to the U.S. spoiled! Trying to find similar dishes was difficult, especially when our Americanized version of Italian food is represented in restaurants like Olive Garden. 🙄 Not that the food there isn’t good on occasion, but full of heavy cream and loads of cheeses, it can be a little rich for an everyday meal.
When we came home from our trip, I scoured the internet for a simple pasta recipe and decided to try Ina Garten’s Spaghetti Aglio E Olio (garlic and olive oil). Over the years, it has slowly morphed into other dishes, as I now like to add a variety of veggies and flavors, like fresh tomatoes, lemon and basil.
This pasta is really just a simple “base” vegetarian dish, delicious as is, but you can also customize it to your liking. Use your favorite pasta, whether it’s gluten-free or whole wheat. It needn’t be only linguine either. If you prefer penne or spaghetti noodles, use that instead.
If you eat meat, then add in some chicken or shrimp. Sometimes I add some chicken sausage in with the garlic and sauté it with all the veggies, which adds a lot of flavor. You can also add cheese, if you eat dairy. I have a dairy sensitivity, so I can’t eat a lot of it, but my family loves shaved parmesan on top of theirs. I think some fresh mozzarella chunks would be delicious too!
I’ve found it important to season with salt and pepper throughout the cooking process. Seasoning throughout also helps your dish not to be bland and tasteless, especially if you’re not adding meat to bring in flavor. It’s a good idea to generously salt the water that you boil the pasta in too. It adds flavor to the pasta so that you don’t have to over-season the sauce later to compensate.
Cook the pasta to al dente, which is cooked but still a little firm—NOT mushy. When you drain the noodles, be sure to save a cup of the pasta water to add to the sauce later. The starchy water is already seasoned and helps to make the pasta more saucy and less watery. You can also substitute some of the pasta water with a splash of cooking wine for a richer flavor.
Such a simple, yet elegant dish. A perfect way to use up some of that spring/summer produce too! As they say in Italy, buon appetito!