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In late summer, when my garden is busting at the gut with so many tomatoes that I’m scrambling to harvest, eat and process them all, this dish reminds me to slow down and relish the beauty in those small orbs of bursting sweetness. It’s really easy to go from garden excitement at the beginning of the season, when it’s all about planning and imagining the bounty, to resentment at dealing with bumper crops coming to peak ripeness all at once. But one bite of this pasta puts me in place, reminding me that there’s nothing more special than a sun-ripened tomato, plucked warm from the vine on a beautiful Vermont summer evening.
To prepare the tomatoes, toss them in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. You have a choice of how to cook them, depending on what equipment you have available to you. You can either spread the tomatoes on a sheet pan and broil in the oven on the top shelf for 5 minutes, or until they pucker and just start to brown, or you can place them in the basket of an air fryer and cook them at 350 F for 10 minutes, shaking them halfway into the cooking time. Once cooked, transfer the tomatoes to a large plate or a bowl. Repeat the process with the kale tossing the kale in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and seasoning with salt and pepper. Broil on the top shelf for 5 minutes or air fry at 350 F for 2 minutes, or until just crispy. Transfer to a plate or bowl that contains the tomatoes.
Combine the chicken stock, butter, lemon zest and juice, and goat cheese in a large saucepan. Stir over low heat to melt the butter and goat cheese. Taste to check for proper seasoning and add salt and pepper, if needed.
In the meantime, cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the fresh fettuccine for 2 minutes or store-bought pasta according to the package instructions. Use tongs to transfer the pasta to the large sauté pan, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water (but don’t add yet). Using the tongs, gently coat the pasta with the goat cheese mixture and add a tablespoon at a time of the reserved pasta water if the sauce needs to be thinned. Add the tomatoes and kale and quickly toss. Immediately transfer to a serving bowl and top with the cheddar.