Today I should have gotten "real" work done, but instead sorted and prepared old clothes I'm getting rid of, picked up our newly repaired vacuum cleaner and vacuumed, mowed the lawn, and did some cooking. Here's one of the things I made:

Courtesy of Delicious Living Magazine, Kale-Almond Pesto and White-Bean Pasta (a recipe originally given to me by anonymous). I doubled the recipe, substituted apple cider vinegar for the lemon juice (no lemons); used a lot of vegetable stock to make the blender work more smoothly; cooked up dried beans instead of canned (always a mistake--takes forever!); and added some parsley and basil to the kale pesto mix. It turned out fine, though a bit on the almondy side. Anyway, it's supposed to be a stress reliever. As I pointed out to a student today, now that I'm on leave, it's stressful to have to decide which project to work on, rather than knowing that the 15 minutes I have for my own work each week has to go to whatever was due three weeks ago, as opposed to whatever was only due yesterday.

So, without further ado:

Kale-Almond Pesto and White-Bean Pasta

Serves 4 / This delicious dish bursts with stress-soothing nutrients, including calcium and vitamins A, C, and E. Almonds add a healthy dose of magnesium, and white beans supply zinc, potassium, magnesium, and thiamin.

1 bunch kale, washed and drained
4 ounces dried penne pasta
1/2 cup whole almonds, toasted
1-1/2 tablespoons garlic
(about 5 large cloves)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice of two lemons, divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin
olive oil
1 19-ounce can white (cannellini) beans, rinsed and drained
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Cut lower stems from kale. Steam kale over 2 quarts boiling water for 5–7 minutes, until tender. Transfer to a colander to drain. Do not discard water. Add pasta to water on stove and return to a boil, stirring. When pasta is al dente, drain.

2. Meanwhile, place almonds in food processor and process until well chopped. Add garlic, cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and juice of one lemon. Carefully squeeze water from steamed kale and remove leaves from stems; discard stems. Pat leaves dry with paper towels and chop roughly. Pat dry again and add to food processor. Process until all ingredients are finely minced. With motor running, add 2 tablespoons olive oil in a stream until a thick pesto is formed.

3. In a medium bowl, toss beans with juice of one lemon and 1/8 teaspoon salt.

4. In a large skillet, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat. Add red pepper flakes and fry for about 1 minute. Add kale-almond pesto and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. If pesto seems too thick, thin with a small amount of water. Add pasta and beans and toss gently until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with black pepper and serve immediately.


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