I am able to grow kale year-round here in Southern CA. This dish came about after I picked a huge amount and made a double batch of kale salad. I decided I wanted something a bit more substantial for dinner and having twice as much kale salad as I normally make, this pasta was what came to mind. It's very good! The salty feta with lemon and basil, the crunch from the toasted sunflower seeds, well, it just doesn't get any better than this.
Fusilli with Lemony Kale, Toasted Sunflower Seeds and Feta
1 pound kale (1 large bunch, I use Lacinato Kale)
Juice from 2 lemons
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup toasted sunflower seeds
4 TB extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup feta cheese (I used sheep’s milk feta)
Fresh Italian basil leaves, torn
1 pound dry fusilli or penne pasta (I used a bit of both)
Cook pasta according to package directions. While your pasta is cooking, strip the kale from the stalks, rinse well in cool water, and dry well.
Slice kale into small pieces and place in large, shallow serving bowl. Pour the lemon juice and olive oil over the kale. Massage this into the kale by rubbing between your fingers; I use food grade, gloved hands for this so the lemon won’t hurt my hands! It will take about 5 minutes to get the kale soft; it will look much darker and very shiny in color when you are finished.
Add the minced garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and feta cheese to the kale, toss lightly and season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked, drained pasta to the kale mixture. The pasta should still be hot when you add it to the kale mixture.
Sprinkle with the toasted sunflower seeds, some fresh torn basil leaves, and check for the need of additional lemon juice, feta or seasoning. Now you're ready to serve.