Tuscan Pesto-Dressed Penne with Crispy Kale with Garlic and Broiled Tomato Crostini

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 25 min
  • Prep: 10 min
  • Cook: 15 min
  • Yield: s: 4 to 6 servings
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1 pound penne rigate or rigatoni rigate or other short cut shape

Kosher salt

1 bundle Tuscan kale, stemmed and cut into large irregular shapes


Freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup packed fresh basil leaves (about 50 leaves)

1/2 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 cloves garlic

1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (a generous handful)

1/3 cup grated pecorino cheese

Broiled Tomato Crostini, for serving, recipe follows

Broiled Tomato Crostini:

4 ripe plum tomatoes, halved

2 tablespoons fresh thyme

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

EVOO, for drizzling

Twelve 1/2-inch-thick slices multi-grain batard or other crusty, long, 3-inch-wide loaf

2 cloves garlic, halved


  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water to al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Heads up: reserve a mugful or about 1 1/2 cups starchy cooking water just before draining.
  3. Arrange the kale on a cooling rack over a baking sheet. Dress the kale lightly with EVOO and season with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Broil until crisp and charred at the edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and reserve.
  4. Toast the nuts in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant.
  5. Place the herbs in food processor and add the nuts. Then grate in the garlic, season with salt and pepper, and add cheeses and 1/2 cup EVOO. Pulse into a thick pesto sauce and adjust the seasoning. Transfer to a large serving bowl.
  6. Add 1 cup of the starchy water to the pesto. Toss the pasta and sauce to combine. If the pasta is dry, add the remaining 1/2 starchy water. Fold in half of the crispy kale and garnish with the remainder. Serve with Broiled Tomato Crostini.

Broiled Tomato Crostini:

  1. Heat the broiler. 
  2. Arrange the tomatoes on a baking sheet and dress with the thyme, salt and pepper and drizzle with EVOO. Broil until charred at the edges, 10 minutes. Chop the tomatoes and reserve. 
  3. Just before serving, char the toasts on each side, rub with the cut garlic, drizzle with EVOO and top the toast with the chopped, broiled tomatoes.