pasta with kale & bacon

4 to 6    |   
Prep Time:
15 minutes    |   
Cook Time:
15 minutes

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pasta kale bacon

I’ve got pasta on the brain, partly because my friend Pen was raving about a recipe she saw in Bon Appetit. It involves kale and anchovies and since my garden is still bursting with kale, I had to make it. But I don’t love anchovies (in fact, I only barely like them). So I decided to substitute bacon. Bacon or anchovies. Bacon or anchovies? Hmmm….is that a hard decision?


kosher salt
1 pound Tuscan kale
(2 large bunches)
1 pound dried linguine or fettuccine
olive oil
2 strips thick butcher bacon, diced
1 whole shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
pinch red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup crisp breadcrumbs (see note)
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese


Bring a large pot half filled with water to a boil; add a big pinch of kosher salt. Trim the ends of the kale stems, then chop the kale crosswise into wide strips. When the water in pot is boiling, add kale, cover and cook until kale is just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain the kale in a colander. Refill the pot with enough water to cook the pasta and bring it to the boil. Chop the cooked, drained kale and set aside.

When the water for the pasta is boiling, drop in a generous handful of salt then add the pasta and cook according to time on package.

While the pasta cooks, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a wide saute pan or frying pan. Add the diced bacon and cook, stirring, until the bacon starts to sizzle and brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the shallot, garlic and red pepper flakes and stir for about 1 minute to soften the shallot. Add the chopped kale and cook, stirring, until kale takes on the other flavors, about 3 minutes. Stir in the unsalted butter until melted.

When the pasta is  al dente, use a glass measuring cup to scoop out about a cupful of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the kale (if your sauté pan isn’t big enough, combine the kale mixture and the pasta in the bigger pot). Pour in half the cooking liquid from pot and toss the mixture over medium heat until the noodles soak up the liquid; if it looks dry, add the rest of the cooking water and a little more olive oil. Divide the pasta among warmed pasta bowls and sprinkle each with breadcrumbs and grated cheese to taste. Serve right away.

note: you can make your own breadcrumbs by sauteing fresh crumbs in olive oil until crisp, but here’s my cheater tip: buy good croutons and crush a handful of them in a plastic bag with a rolling pin or the bottom of a pot and there you go: instant crispy breadcrumbs. If you want, use garlic croutons to make garlic breadcrumbs.