Penne with Kale, Walnuts, Chicken and Pesto

The houses here are hunched down in gullies or stand weather-beaten in brown fields, all with steeply pitched roofs that speak of long, harsh winters. We drove through our second snowstorm of the week – the spring I gushed about has not made it to New England. Icicles still adorn the roadways. State parks and campgrounds are closed, and finding campsites will be a challenge the next few days as we pass through the Adirondack Mountains. Last night we parked just off Vermont Hwy 125, with a view of the bridge that will take us across the southern end of Lake Champlain into New York State.

White Mountains, NH

Kale and walnuts are a new favorite combination. I recently made an easy side dish of steamed kale quickly sautéed with chopped walnuts, olive oil and garlic. This is another take on that idea. And, yes, adding more nuts and cheese to a pesto dish may sound like too much of a good thing…but it works.

Toasting Walnuts

Penne with Kale, Walnuts, Chicken and Pesto

½ lb dry penne pasta

1 large bunch kale, stemmed, chopped

½ C walnuts, chopped

1 Tbs olive oil

Sprinkle of red pepper flakes

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 C chicken broth

Juice of 1 lemon

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2-3 big spoonfuls prepared pesto, to taste

½ C Parmesan or manchego, shredded

Cook pasta according to package directions. Stir in kale and let cook for the last 5 minutes. (Use more kale than you think you need! A big bunch cooks down to nothing.) Drain.

Meanwhile, heat walnuts, olive oil and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes until fragrant.  Set aside. Add chicken breasts, broth, lemon juice and garlic to pan. Cover and steam until cooked through. Shred chicken.

Toss together pasta, chicken and pesto. Top with walnuts and cheese.

Penne Kale Walnuts Chicken Pesto

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