And then, after all that fun in Austin, 2011 got down to business. You know, the business of work, and the gym, and taking out the trash, and loads of laundry, and rides on the El. The business, in other words, of life. Throw in a woolen sweater, some heavy boots and a set of chapped lips and the picture is more accurate, or timely at least—the business of life in January. And, while I know it’s customary to complain these heart-of-winter days away—wishing fervently for longer days and stronger sunshine and delicate, un-knobbly, in-season produce that grew above ground—I can’t help but appreciate the return of normalcy.
There’s a delicious comfort in it.
Speaking of delicious, a big part of returning to the everyday grind is a renewed reliance on that cache of standby recipes—the ones you make again and again, the ones you know by heart. I’ve said this before, but these are often the recipes that never find their way to this site. There are exceptions—we make this soup all the time, and we love this recipe for a meat-based dinner, and I eat this stew for lunch during most weeks, while Kevin snacks on this banana bread on many mornings. But, for whatever reason, the great majority of our standby recipes—a quinoa salad is almost a weekly occurrence; a risotto, swirled with wilted greens and studded with bits of crisped chicken sausage, shows up at least one a week; a beef tenderloin serves as a frequent weekend night splurge, alongside a pile of these oven fries.
One explanation, I suppose, is that at least half of the recipes on this site are sweet. I can’t, in good conscience, eat bourbon vanilla bean ice cream or peanut butter pudding pie for dinner, much as I’d (and Kevin would) like to. Beyond that, many of the recipes on this site are either too decadent or too labor-intensive (or, ahem, both) to qualify for a weeknight dinner.
So, in the spirit of January, I resolve to add more of those weeknight staples to the Recipe Index. Starting today—with this recipe for whole wheat spaghetti with braised kale. Have I lost you already, with the mere mention of whole wheat spaghetti? If not, has kale scared you away? I sure hope not, because I really think you’ll like this one. It’s quick and deeply satisfying—hearty and earthy and lemony and garlic-y and spicy—especially on a winter weeknight.
Spaghetti with Braised Kale
Adapted from Molly Wizenberg for Bon Appetit
1 pound lacinato kale (about 2 bunches), large center ribs and stems removed, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
red pepper flakes
1/2 pound whole wheat spaghetti
1 medium lemon
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Rinse kale. Drain; transfer to bowl with some water still clinging.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add sliced onion and cook until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Add sliced garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper flakes; cook until onion is golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add kale and toss until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the juice of the lemon, cover pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Continue cooking until kale is very tender, stirring occasionally and adding water by teaspoonfuls if dry, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in medium pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Add cooked spaghetti and 1/4 cup parmesan to kale mixture in pot; toss to combine, adding reserved liquid by tablespoonfuls if dry. Sprinkle spaghetti with additional grated Parmesan cheese and serve.