Simple pantry ingredients and ease of preparation make tortellini and kale the ideal weeknight, mid-winter meal. This version is intended to sate the heartiest of appetites, providing enough fuel to keep you going into the next day. After you bring the water to a full boil, the pasta dish can be on the table in less than 30 minutes. Even better, most of the ingredients can be readily found in markets regardless of the time of year.
No kale? Try spinach or fresh chard. The ideal bite has a piece of walnut wedged into the tortellini. And after a quick nap, you'll be ready for whatever winter throws at you, so dig in. (And it's even better the next day.)

Prep time: 15 minutes 

Total time: 40 minutes

Yields: 4 servings

Winter Tortellini with Kale

Equipment you'll need

  • Chef's knife
  • Cutting board
  • 1 large cooking pot + with lid
  • 1 colander insert
  • Spatula
  • Large skillet
  • Long wooden spoon
  • Large skillet
  • Paper towel
  • 1 lb. cheese or pesto tortellini, dry weight
  • 1 tbs. kosher salt
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • Half onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups kale, chopped
  • 2 oz. water
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated + plus extra
  • 2 tbs. ready-made pesto
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted
  • Half lemon, cut into wedges, optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Cooking directions
  1. Prep vegetables. Insert colander in cooking part and fill 2/3 will water. Add 1 tbs. salt. Place pot over high heat, cover and bring water to a roiling boil. Add tortellini and cook until al dente, about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1tbs. oil in skillet over medium- high heat for about 2 minutes. Add onion and garlic, sauté for about 5 to 6 minutes until onions are tender. Add chopped kale plus water. Cover and cook until kale wilts and turns bright green and water is reduced, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add black pepper.
  3. Remove insert and drain pasta water, leaving a 1/4-inch in bottom of cooking pot. Return tortellini to pot, and then add vegetables and pesto sauce with Parmesan cheese. Fold ingredients gently and allow tortellini to cool for about five minutes.
  4. Remove residue that remains in skillet and toast walnut pieces over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Plate tortellini and top with toasted walnuts and Parmesan.