Being an Italian girl, I am always making different kinds of pasta dishes. Pasta is such a great staple to have in the kitchen because it is really versatile. From a side dish to a main dish, pasta is a simple foundation for a variety of flavors. With the fall season sneaking up on us, I have created a dish that is a great way to extend grilling season, while also having a fresh meal. Grilling vegetables is one of my favorite ways to enjoy them, because it adds a nice, earthy, charred, smoky flavor, that you just can’t get from anything else. I had some kale around and wanted to see if I was able to grill it, and I found out something even better. When you grill kale, it becomes crispy! The secret is to make sure it is evenly coated in some kind of an oil, then grill on a higher heat. The crispiness adds a nice texture to the pasta dish.
You can really add any kind of veggies you like to this pasta, but I add in red peppers and zucchini because they are very easy to grill. To round out the meal I add in both fresh mozzarella cheese and freshly grated parmesan cheese. The mozzarella is creamy, while the parmesan is nutty and salty. Then, for the “sauce” to this pasta, I love using homemade pesto (you can use store-bought as well) because it is something I always have around.
This Pesto Pasta with Grilled Veggies and Crispy Kale is a nice main dish, or side dish. I like serving it on my tailgating menu as well because it tastes great at room temperature, and can makes enough to feed a crowd.
Pesto Pasta with Grilled Veggies and Crispy Kale
- 1 pound rigatoni; any pasta shape can be used
- 2 red peppers; cut into large sliced
- 2 zucchini cut into large pieces
- 1 large bunch kale; I prefer the flat dinosaur kale
- olive oil
- ¼-1/2 cup pesto
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
- ¼-1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Turn the grill on to medium/high heat
- Cut peppers and zucchini so that they are large enough to be placed onto the grill and not fall through
- Cut a few inches off the bottom of the bunch of kale, and place in a large bowl
- Drizzle enough oil over the kale and use your hands to toss the leaves around so that each leaf is lightly coated, set the kale aside
- Lightly coat the peppers and zucchini so that they are evenly coated in oil as well
- Place the zucchini and peppers on the grill and cook until softened and have noticeable grill marks; set aside
- Place the kale onto the grill and cook until both sides are starting to get grill makes and starting to get crispy, turn the heat to high if they aren't getting crispy; set aside
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, well salted, water, until al dente (meaning they still have a bite to them, not soggy)
- Reserve about a half cup of the water the pasta was cooking in
- Drain the pasta and place back into the large pot
- Place ¼ cup of pesto in with the pasta and toss to evenly coat the pasta
- Add in a little of the reserved pasta water to loosen up the pesto to create more of a sauce
- Add more pesto and/or pasta water to get the pasta evenly coated with enough flavor
- Cut the zucchini and peppers into 1 inch bite size pieces and toss in with the pasta
- Use your fingers to break the mozzarella up into small pieces and toss in with the pasta as well
- Add in ¼ cup of freshly grated parmesan and toss pasta until all of the ingredients are well mixed
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- Crumble the crispy kale over the finished pasta; I like to remove the large center stem as it can be a bit tough to eat
- Add more pesto or cheese if needed and serve!