Linguine with Kale Pesto, Beetroot and Chickpeas
Linguine with Kale Pesto, Salt Baked Beetroot and Crispy Chickpeas
The use of kale in this pesto makes for an altogether more earthy sauce, and the rocket adds a wonderful pepperiness. Don’t be shy with the lemon juice, it really does brighten the whole dish. If the step of salt baking seems tedious, I implore you to try it even once. Yes, you could certainly use roasted beetroot but the sweetness of a salt-baked one goes wonderfully with the savoury notes here.
Difficulty: a little effort
Prep time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 1 hour
3 egg whites (roughly 110 g)
700 g regular table salt
10 baby beetroot
500 g flour
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
1 Tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
4 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
2 cans of chickpeas, drained well but not rinsed under water
½ C – ¾ C (125 ml – 180 ml) good quality olive oil
salt and pepper
2 bunches (about 2 C) kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
2 handfuls (2 punnets) rocket
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp (5 ml) red pepper flakes
2 tsp (10 ml) Dijon mustard
zest and juice of one lemon
1 C (250 ml) Parmesan, freshly grated
Preheat the oven to 190 ºC.
Combine the egg whites and salt to form a paste. Place the beetroot in a roasting dish and cover each one with a 2 cm thick layer of the salt paste. Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes. When done, remove from the oven and allow to cool. Crack open the salt crust, peel and quarter the beetroot.
Tip the flour and salt out onto a clean work surface, make a well in the centre and add the eggs, egg yolks and olive oil. Slowly, using a fork, work the flour into the eggs to make a sticky dough. Dust your hands with flour and begin to knead the dough. You may think your dough is too dry or wet, but don’t doctor it until you’ve begun to knead, it will come together after a little bit of elbow grease. Keep kneading until the dough is completely smooth, then wrap in cling film and leave to rest out of the fridge for at least half an hour.
Once the pasta has rested, set up the pasta machine. Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the remaining portions covered. Feed one piece through the machine, on the largest setting, and fold in half when the dough comes out the other end. Work your way down to the thinner settings, folding the pasta in half before each roll, to laminate and reinforce it. When it begins to get too long, trim to no longer than 30 cm. When the pasta has gone through the smallest setting, attach the linguine cutter to the pasta machine and feed the sheet through so that you end up with smaller strips. Hang on a washing line (or even door handles all over your kitchen, if needs be) to dry for a bit while you get on with the rest of the dish.
Increase the oven temperature to 210 ºC.
Place the chickpeas on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Don’t crowd the chickpeas on the tray, you want to be able to shake them to ensure all over crispiness – use two trays if necessary. Roast until golden brown and crispy.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and blanch the kale leaves for about 5 minutes, until soft., Add the rocket for the last minute and blanch with the kale. Drain using a colander, and allow to stand for a few minutes. Shake to remove excess water.
Place the cooked kale and rocket into a food processor with the garlic cloves, red pepper flakes and mustard – pulse to combine. Add the lemon juice and Parmesan and pulse again. Pour in the oil, a little at a time, pulsing as you go, until you get a soft paste. Season to taste. Place the pesto in a container, cover with a small layer of oil and wrap with cling film. Keep in the fridge until ready to use. This will oxidise if you don’t keep it well-covered.
To cook the pasta (see our list of pasta must haves), bring a large pot of water to the boil. Salt the water generously and add a blob of olive oil. Once boiling, add the pasta and gently cook for 1-2 minutes, or until al dente (cooked with just a little bite). Once cooked, drain in a colander. If you’re not serving the pasta straight away, toss with a little olive oil.
Toss the cooked linguine with the kale pesto and divide between four bowls. Dot with the beetroot quarters, sprinkle the crispy chickpeas over the top of the dish and finish with blobs of goat’s cheese. This dish can be served either hot or at room temperature.