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Leslie's List: The Best Fall Pasta, a Morbid Memoir, and Miley

The best things to eat, do, and read this week.
Leslie's List HERO 2

Am I allowed to say "What a week!" when it's only Tuesday? Because what a week. After getting back late Sunday night from Portland, Oregon, I was met with a very scary inbox, an equally full calendar, and a very empty refrigerator, so it's been a hustle to say the least. After cancelling a late workout class Monday night to cook some food and go to bed by 8 pm, I feel a little more myself and ready to take on Wednesday through Friday, with a relaxing weekend as the trophy at the end! Here's what I'm up to this week:

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So many fun things happening this week in L.A.! 

If you're into podcasts and awesome women (who isn't?)... you may be interested in Werk It, a women's podcast festival! While most of the panels are during the day, there will be live tapings all week including shows like 2 Dope Queens and Death, Sex, and Money. See the full schedule here.

If you like music... Saturday is the final night of the Los Angeles Music Video Festival, where they'll be showing a retrospective of Bjork's videos, as well as some of the top videos of the year at the Ace Hotel Downtown. Buy your tickets here.

If you like food... Tomorrow night, Alice Waters is sitting down to chat with Jonathan Gold about her new memoir at the New Roads School—tickets available here.

If you like outdoor activities... Sunday is Ciclavia, with car-free biking throughout Downtown Los Angeles.

If you want to help people really quickly and easily... Buy something for those still suffering from the hurricane in Puerto Rico! They still need tons of supplies, and you can help by purchasing one or a few things here.

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Photo courtesy of Pamela Salzman

Photo courtesy of Pamela Salzman

For the past several weeks, I've been cooking almost exclusively from Pamela Salzman's recipes—they're incredibly delicious, and all weeknight-friendly. Recently, I've been cooking her Pasta with Kale, Walnuts and Ricotta which just feels like fall. I love it so much, I asked if I could share the recipe with you all here since it's only available in her cookbook. Enjoy!

Pasta with Kale, Walnuts, and Ricotta
Courtesy of Pamela Salzman

1 1/2 pounds any type of kale (about 2 large bunches), washed well and stemmed 
Kosher salt
1 pound whole-grain pasta, such as fusilli or strozzapreti, or GF pasta of choice
1/2 cup raw walnuts (see page 25 for substitutions)
1/4 cup unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more if you want it spicy
Zest of 2 lemons (about 1 tablespoon)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup high-quality ricotta cheese (not vegan/DF) or vegan ricotta

How to Prepare: 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a heaping tablespoon of salt and the kale. Cook the kale until tender, about 6 minutes. Using tongs, pull the kale from the water and place in a colander to drain. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out the excess moisture from the kale using a thin kitchen towel or a fine-mesh sieve and the back of a large spoon, and chop the kale on a cutting board.

Bring the water back to a boil and add the pasta. Start stirring the pasta immediately and continue to stir until the water comes back up to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-high and cook until al dente, according to the package directions. Usually this is 9 to 11 minutes. Remove 1 cup of pasta water and reserve. Drain the pasta.

In a large, dry skillet over medium heat, toast the walnuts until fragrant, 5 to 8 minutes. Do not leave the walnuts alone! Transfer to a cutting board and chop.

In the same skillet in which you toasted the walnuts, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook until fragrant but not golden, 30 to 60 seconds. Add the lemon zest and toasted walnuts and turn off the heat.

Add the chopped kale to the garlic mixture, along with 1/4 teaspoon of salt plus a few grinds of black pepper.

Add the pasta to the skillet and toss to coat. Add a little reserved pasta water to moisten the pasta. Start with 1/4 cup.

Finish the pasta with a drizzle of olive oil and either stir in the ricotta or pass it on the side.

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Last weekend, I got lost browsing in Powell's Bookstore in Portland and ended up in the Psychology section, where I was greeted by a trove of books by one of my favorite authors, Mary Roach (I recommended her book, Stiff, to anyone who will listen). A staff pick from the same stack caught my eye, since it boasted a very "Mary Roach feel" (she's a fearless investigative journalist with a fantastic sense of humor—what's not to love?). When I picked up the recommendation, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory, I could hardly put it down. Even though I wouldn't say I have a fascination with death (despite what my book recommendations may tell you), I loved this book, both for the straight-forward way it addresses death (the first line goes something like "You never forget the first corpse you shave."), and for the philosophical insights it gives to this country's "death industry." And! Just realized she's signing her new book From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death at one of my favorite bookstores in L.A., Skylight Books, tonight at 7:30 pm! See you there?


Maybe you watched all 12 hours of Ken Burns' Civil War for your high school US History class, or Grandpa Joe called you "sonny" and asked you to watch Baseball with him, but chances are you have an immediate reaction to his name—whether narcoleptic, or filled with history-buff fueled admiration. To be honest, I fall somewhere in the middle (interested and half-asleep), but his latest miniseries, The Vietnam War, is incredible. Since my dad fought in the war (while my boyfriend's dad was arrested for protesting it), I've always been interested in it, and Burns leaves no questions unanswered, from Vietnam's history with French colonialism in 1858 to present-day. You're going to want a big bowl of popcorn for this one—it's 18 hours long. Watch it here or stream Burns' other documentaries.


I wanted to like Miley Cyrus's new album—I really, really did—but after listening to it, I couldn't help but notice something missing. It almost felt shockingly low-energy, especially compared to her (very crazy, drug-fueled) last album, Miley and Her Dead Petz. That being said, there are a few gems including I Would Die for You, Rainbowland (feat. her godmother Dolly Parton!), and (of course!) Malibu. Instead I'll be spending my time with Phoebe Bridgers' and Lauren Ruth Ward's new albums, and St. Vincent's 'New York'. Yay female songwriters! 

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I hardly own any jewelry, so for a long time I got away with storing all of my necklaces and earrings in a tiny pinch bowl (which I still love!), but things are getting a little messy, especially when I'm rushing out the door and can only find one-half of a tiny post duo. This easy DIY solves that issue—and only takes about ten minutes to make!

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