Contestant #1 Kale and Quinoa Soup Contestant #2 Kale-Topped Pizza
Contestant #3 Butternut Squash Farfalle with Bacon and Kale
Runner up in this taste test was entry #2, which was cheese pizza topped with kale, sweet peppers, and uncured salami.
First place in the contest went to contestant #3, Butternut Squash Farfalle Pasta with Bacon and Kale. For those who would like to duplicate the winning recipe, here it is:
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 12 to 16 oz. farfalle (bow-tie) pasta
- 6 slices bacon (preferably uncured)
- 10 ounces fresh kale, rinsed and chopped (or cooked baby bok choy)
- Parmesan, Italian blend or mozzarella cheese, grated or shredded
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 Tbsp. cooking oil
- chopped fresh parsley
- sea salt
- Boil pasta in salted water for 6 to 7 minutes. Reserve 2.5 cups of the hot water (a Mason jar or large graduated measuring cup works well for this), and drain the pasta.
- Cook bacon until crisp, remove from skillet, and reserve 1 tablespoon bacon drippings in the skillet. Crumble bacon into bits after cooling.
- Saute squash cubes with 1 Tbsp. bacon drippings and 2 Tbsp. oil. After 7 to 8 minutes, add garlic, hot water from pasta, and the partially-cooked pasta. Continue to cook and stir until pasta and squash are tender and liquid is mostly absorbed.
- Turn down heat to low and add chopped kale and parsley to pasta and squash mixture, stirring until leaves are wilted. Remove from heat and stir in crisp bacon.
- Top individually plated servings of pasta with grated cheese.
And now, let's find out more about the selection process. First, most judges who tasted the kale and quinoa soup reacted with with mild or obvious disapproval. Next, the kale-topped pizza was greeted with skepticism, but then given an overall thumbs up.
And the final contestant, the savory pasta dish, was eaten with approving smiles. However, one sensitive taster objected to the odor of the Parmesan cheese. When her plate was sent back to the kitchen and the pasta returned topped with mild mozzarella instead, the verdict was positive, leading to a unanimous vote.
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