Its been years since I have cooked a packaged pasta. Buitoni, the longstanding brand of pasta sauces, filled pastas, and noodles, recently announced two new pasta flavors. The nice folks (thanks Sarah!) at Buitoni's agency, Night Agency in NYC, contacted me about tasting these pastas and creating a new recipe or two. Armed with coupons to try them out, I brought home packages of the Butternut Squash Agnolotti (half moon shapes filled with butternut squash puree, ricotta cheese, and amoretti cookie crumbs) and the Chicken Marsala Ravioli (chicken, roasted mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, and Marsala wine). Both of these pastas are part of Buitoni's all natural reserve product line.
Preferring the Butternut Squash, I made a list of ingredients that plays well with the agnolotti filling. Nutmeg immediately jumped to the top of the page. Shallots and garlic are always reliable aromatics. Finally, kale emerged as the other star of the show. The green leafy vegetable often shows up butternut squash side dishes or savory pies. Plus, it seems to be everywhere this time of year and for a bargain.
What I didn't want to create was another sauce, especially one chock full of butter or cream. Not that those sauces don't taste good - they just didn't seem to fit with this pasta. What I like about this recipe is the use of a delicious filled pasta (the filling really tastes like butternut squash) along with seasonal ingredients, not to mention local. This means cutting out some kitchen time (rolling and stuffing pasta) yet still chopping, stirring, and toasting raw ingredients. Water boils while the kale wilts in the saute pan. Active cooking time means dinner gets eaten sooner.
Kale is one of those superfoods that gets lots of name dropping for health benefits and nutritional impact. It is a frequent guest on farmers market tables in the summer as well as the winter. In other words, this pasta recipe fits the summer and the January dinner menus. There are many varieties of kale - use whatever you find at the market. Since they all look like mini shrubs, rip off the stems and tear the leaves. No need to bring out the knife this time. Unlike the other green leafy vegetable, spinach, it won't disappear quite as quickly in the pan. Another +1 for this recipe: it only took 30 minutes, from start to finish.
*I was not compensated for these products or recipes - the Night Agency provided me with coupons to purchase the pastas free of charge*
Butternut Squash Pasta + Kale + Toasted Sunflower Seeds
yield: 3-4 servings
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups kale (any variety), stems removed and leaves torn into pieces
1 small shallot, thinly sliced, about 1 tablespoon
1 garlic clove, chopped, about 1 teaspoon
1/2 cup (4 ounces) chicken or vegetable stock
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon toasted sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon grated Pecorino cheese
1 package Buitoni Butternut Squash Agnolotti
Cook the Buitoni pasta according to the instructions on the package.
Heat the olive oil in a medium size skillet on medium high heat. Add the kale and toss the leaves in the olive oil to coat. Watch how the color changes to bright green. When the kale starts to wilt a little, add the shallot and garlic. Turn the heat down a bit to avoid burning the shallot and garlic.
After about five minutes of cooking, add the chicken or vegetable stock. The stock will sizzle and start to form a sauce, of sorts. The kale will get more tender.
Grate the nutmeg over the kale - 20 gratings should do the trick. Use more or less depending on taste. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper.
When the pasta is ready, spoon the agnolotti into a bowl or plate. Add several spoonfuls of the kale on top of the pasta. Sprinkle with toasted sunflower seeds and cheese.