Winter Pasta

Winter Pasta Recipe

I seem to inherit a lot of CSA boxes. Friends and neighbors forget to put holds on their subscriptions before leaving town, and sure enough, they end up in my kitchen. When I was a kid there was a house that was always happy to take in stray animals, I've become the equivalent for CSA boxes. And I have to say, it's pretty great.

Winter Pasta Recipe

That said, cooking through a box is always a challenge of sorts. I mean, you want to cook your way through it before things start to go bad, sad or wilted. This always forces me to adapt and try out ideas I might not have considered otherwise. You also have the element of surprise that comes along with each box - not knowing exactly what will be inside each one. Although, there is one thing I do know. The box, whichever farm it comes from, usually includes lots and lots of greens - kale, spinach, lettuce, chard, arugula. Sometimes all of the above.

My friend Dan dropped off a box the other night, and after a quick glance I knew I would need to put a dent in the greens right away. I made this simple one-pot winter pasta with a sauce made from lots of kale, shallots, garlic, goat cheese and penne. Whatever I had on hand. You might tweak it with a different cheese - Parmesan or pecorino, for example. Or even ricotta. You could top it with a some chopped black olives or toasted nuts...I kept it pretty simple here. You can reheat any leftovers the next day, with a splash of water. The pasta holds up nicely.

Winter Pasta Recipe

I know a lot of you subscribe to CSAs and I'd love to hear your favorite ways to use up your greens. I have a bunch of go-to green-intensive recipes I rely on, but if you're doing something unique or unexpected with them on your end please share. I suspect Melissa Clark's kale salad will continue to be in high rotation around here all winter. I keep making it, in part because unlike other green salads that go south shortly after being dressed, this kale salad likes to party. It's delicious, and just gets better as it sits around, fully dressed, waiting for people to notice it. Other favorites? You can't go wrong with a hefty pot of Ribollita - I trade off between that and various takes on this lentil soup to which I add lots of chopped kale.

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Winter Pasta

I used penne here, but you can substitute whatever pasta you like. Spinach can be substituted for the kale if you like as well.

4 cloves of garlic, peeled
4 small shallots, peeled
1 small bunch of kale - 1/2 lb / 8 oz, stalks removed, washed well
1/3 cup / 80 ml extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup / 2 oz goat cheese, plus more for topping
2 tablespoons + hot pasta water
fine grain sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
fresh lemon juice - optional
12 oz / 340 g dried penne pasta
fresh thyme - and thyme flowers

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the boiling water generously, and add the garlic and shallots. Boil for 2-3 minutes, stir in the kale and cook for another ten seconds. Don't overcook. Working quickly, use a slotted spoon or strainer to fish the greens, garlic, and shallots from the water. Use a food processor to puree the ingredients along with the olive oil and goat cheese. Add a couple tablespoons of hot pasta water if needed to thin things out if needed. Then season with a touch of salt and plenty of black pepper. Taste. Depending on your goat cheese, you might need a little extra acidic oomph if your sauce is a bit flat. If so, add fresh lemon juice a bit at a time until you're happy with it the sauce. Set aside.

Reheat the pot of water and boil the pasta per package instructions. Drain and toss immediately with the green sauce. Serve topped with a few pinches of fresh thyme, and more crumbled goat cheese.

Serves 4-6.

Prep time: 10 minutes - Cook time: 10 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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heidi .. you do a wonderful job presenting healthy whole foods in a way that is mouth watering! this kale pasta looks + sounds epic! i'm so excited to try it .. i love your email updates .. always brightens my day! your website is simply elegant! your doing fabulous things .. mahalo from hawaii!

Wow, what a timely post for me. I was going to make pasta with goat cheese and kale tonight. This gives me a little extra inspiration. It looks delicious and healthy as always. Love greens. Looking forward to lots of them this winter. Cheers everyone.

This looks like an absolute winner. I made the kale salad and as Heidi said, I also see myself making it again and again--it's delicious. Thanks for all the inspiration!


This looks like something I could get into. If the greens are easy...the kale, chard, spinach, and collards I like them warm with garlic, sesame, soy, and balsamic. Or sauteed with sun-dried tomatoes. But if they are of a bitter or peppery sort--the turnip greens, the mustard, the radish, I stress, and start making odd quantities of pesto, or sneaking them into soups in small bunches. Someone mentioned lettuce and cold temperatures...lightly wilted lettuce is actually lovely, a winter remedy to what is usually a warm weather friend.

A wonderful way to use up large quantities of greens is Saag Paneer, a creamy, curried puree of greens, bathing little fried cubes of paneer or (my usual choice) tofu. An excellent recipe can be found here: Vegans: use tofu as just suggested and substitute coconut milk for the heavy cream.


That looks fabulous! I just bought a bunch of kale yesterday, pasta is a great idea! Love the wintery theme; I think a red vegetable would compliment this dish.

I add kale to EVERYTHING! I make a great chicken, kale and wild rice soup with parsnips, onions and a little garlic for added flavor. I highlight with white wine vinegar and tarragon. My youngest says it's his favorite!

I've never tried anything like this before - a pasta sauce from kale! I'll definitely be trying this one!

What a great way to use up all those greens! It looks really delicious (and like something my kale-hating husband might actually go for)! Usually if I have any extra or any beginning to wilt I stash them in my "scraps bag" in the freezer and make vegetable stock when the bag is full.

Hi Heidi, thanks for another tasty recipe! I was wondering if you could recommend some kind of substitute for goat cheese. I would like to retain a punchy flavor and the soft texture, but without the goat cheese flavor (which I just cannot bring myself to like). Thanks in advance for your thoughts! Mai

mai truong

I have a kale and arugula obsession. Really. This is one of my favorite renditions... another iteration i love is a fried farm egg over quickly sauteed greens on brown rice and barley. it is killer with tamari and sirracha. I am a huge fan of you work. Thanks for keeping the posts coming!

i've never tried kale.i've never been much of a cook but trying to make more of an effort and this recipe looks a great place to start.thanks for your help.


Always looking for new ways to cook with Kale as we are getting plenty in our veg boxes at the moment too. This will definitely be on the menu here over the next couple of days - sounds very yummy!

I love fresh greens! My Mom always made us something called "wilted lettuce", which isn't really wilted. Mom's recipe says use green leaf lettuce, but I don't know why you couldn't use kale or some other fresh greens. Wash lettuce, and cut into pieces (she tore the leaves into long strips). Cut up (or dice) new onions and add to lettuce. Sprinkle with salt. Sprinkle with vinegar. Heat olive oil to steaming, being careful not to overheat or allow to catch on fire. Pour the oil over the lettuce and stir to mix. I could eat a CSA box full of greens prepared this way. I call it "snack crack" - it's so addictive!

Kale is my #1 favorite vegetable. Lately, I have been boiling chopped kale for 2-3 minutes and then tossing it with fish sauce, toasted sesame seeds, a little toasted sesame oil, a little soy sauce, and dash of srihacha. I just play with the flavors until I like the flavor. It is excellent as a cold snack from the fridge, and it keeps for days.


Lovely post. My favorite way to use up lots of greens is in panfried patties served with a dollop of greek yohurt. here's the recipe.

I adore kale - but not everyone around here shares that feeling. But I bet all mixed up with yummy cheese and pureed, my family will actually eat their greens! Yum!

White bean soup with Kale is another way to use up some kale.


Yum, this looks delicious! I usually make kale chips, use kale in pasta fazzioli and of course, your fabulous green lentil soup with the greek yogurt on top (the formal name slips my mind right now). I have to try this with some goat cheese I just got from the farmer's market Wednesday (I was going to use it on pizza)! Thanks for all the great recipes!

Marianne Russell

This look fabulous, and will be a great way to use up the gorgeous kale in my garden. We get a lot of greens in our CSA, and we eat most of them as salads (and kale in soups). The only thing I can't deal with is chard -- just cannot bring myself to enjoy that icky leaf. A few nights ago, we made the kale salad you posted -- it was absurdly delicious. That recipe is a keeper, for sure.

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