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Harissa Spaghettini with Kale and Shrimp

‘The whole wheat spaghettini makes this dish hearty, the kalamata olives add a tangy balance to the heat of the harissa, the lemon zest echoes the bitter tartness in the rest of the dish, the pine nuts add a roasted crunch.’


  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tbsp harrisa
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 oz whole wheat spaghettini
  • 1 small bunch kale
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined


Heat the pine nuts in a cast iron pan or similar saute pan over a medium heat. Stir frequently for 5 minutes or until the seeds begin to turn brown. Keep an eye on the nuts as once they start to turn they may easily burn. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

Rinse the kalamata olives. Using a sharp knife, cut the olives in half. Set aside.

Rinse and pat dry a whole lemon. Using a zester or grater, zest the outermost rind of the lemon. Set aside.

Using a mortar and pestle, crush and grind the garlic with a pinch of salt. You can finely chop the garlic if you don’t have a mortar and pestle. Add the garlic to a small bowl along with the harissa and 1/4 of extra virgin olive oil. Stir to mix.

Boil water in a large pot and cook the spaghettini according to the directions on the package. A minute before the pasta is done, add the chopped kale to the pasta and pasta water, and stir for the remaining time. Drain the kale and pasta in a colander and rinse with cold water, to stop both from cooking anymore.

While the pasta cooks, rinse the kale. Remove the hard spine and chop the kale into bite size pieces. Just looking at a bowl of kale makes me feel healthy. Set aside.

Heat the harissa mix to the pot that the pasta had been cooking in over medium heat for 1 minute.

Stir in the pasta, kale, pine nuts, kalamata olives, and lemon zest. Heat for 2 minutes, stirring gently so as not to break the spaghettini.

Mix shrimp, black pepper, salt and olive oil in a bowl. Cook the shrimp either on a grill pan or a saute pan for 4 minutes on each side, until cooked all the way through. The key to getting a good sear on the shrimp is not to move them until the 4 minutes are up.

Gently stir the shrimp into the pasta and serve.