Kale Pasta Salad With Parmesan and Smoked Almonds

Time20 minutes
YieldsServes 2 to 4
Kale, lots of crunchy vegetables and an assertive dressing make pasta salad worth eating again.
(Ben Mims / Los Angeles Times)
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Measure out your dressing ingredients and chop your vegetables while you’re waiting for the water to boil so you can make this salad super quick. It’s a great repository for any other leftover meat or vegetables you have chilling in the fridge. Instead of Parmesan, add the same amount of crumbled goat cheese or feta.


Kale Pasta Salad with Parm and Smoked Almonds


Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season it with 2 tablespoons salt. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, which is 1 minute more than al dente, according to the package directions I found on all brands.


While the pasta cooks, use a Microplane grater to finely grate the lemon zest into the largest bowl you own. Similarly, grate the garlic cloves on the Microplane (or finely mince with a knife) into the bowl. Juice both lemons and measure out ½ cup juice. Pour the juice into the bowl, along with the shallot, pepper and the remaining 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt. Whisk in the olive oil, then add the kale and use your hands to massage it with the dressing until evenly coated. Add the tomatoes, radishes and cucumbers and toss to combine.


Drain the orzo in a colander or sieve, then return it to the pot. Immediately add cold water from the faucet to the pot until it covers the orzo, then drain away the water. Return the pasta to the pot once more, fill with cold water again and drain.


Add the cold drained orzo and Parm to the kale and veggies and toss to combine with your hands or a spoon. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. If serving all at once, sprinkle the almonds over the salad just before serving to keep them crisp. If keeping it in the fridge, keep the almonds separate and top portions of the salad with them right before serving.

Kitchen Note
This seems like a lot of salt but remember that most of it is going to the cooking water to season the pasta and will go down the drain with that water. And pasta salads need lots of seasoning if you want to be able to taste the flavors through the dulling chill of the fridge. Since I’m calling for a measured amount of salt here, it’s important to note we use the Diamond Crystal brand of kosher salt for our recipes. If you use Morton’s brand kosher salt or iodized table salt, use half as much as called for in the recipe since it is twice as salty as Diamond.
Make Ahead:
The pasta salad, minus the almonds, will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.