There are lots of varieties of kale on the market. They start appearing now and stay seasonal all through the winter. You can play around with any and all of them in this recipe.
You also can use other dark greens, like mustard greens, collards, Swiss chard — even chopped broccolini or broccoli rabe. Spinach is another option, but cook it for only about 4 or 5 minutes or it will probably get a bit too soft.
There are plenty of pasta and greens recipes out there, but this one is elevated and made super-amazing by the topping of Parmesan-infused fried fresh bread crumbs. And a smidge of anchovies and red pepper flakes.
I always rush to mention that if you have people at the table who think they don’t like anchovies, you should conveniently leave out that little nugget of information when describing this dish. But leave out the information, not the anchovies. (Unless you’re serving a possible vegetarian, then full disclosure is in order.)
Pasta with Sauteed Kale and Toasted Bread Crumbs
Start to finish: 25 minutes
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus extra for drizzling
1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon minced garlic, divided
4 oil- or salt-packed anchovy filets, rinsed and minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
2 pounds kale, thick stems cut off, rinsed well and roughly chopped
1 pound spaghetti
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and season generously with salt.
Meanwhile, heat half of the 1/3 cup oil in a very large, deep skillet with a lid over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs, season with salt and pepper, and toast them, stirring frequently, until the bread crumbs are light golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add half the garlic and cook and stir for one more minute, until you can smell the garlic. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the toasted crumbs to a paper-towel-lined plate.
Pour out any remaining oil and wipe out the skillet with paper towels (carefully!). Return the skillet to medium heat, and add the rest of the 1/3 cup oil and heat over medium heat. Add the remaining minced garlic, the anchovies and red pepper flakes, and stir for a few seconds. Then add the kale and 1/4 cup water (if the kale is damp from rinsing it, skip the additional water), partially cover the pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the kale is fairly wilted and tender.
While the kale is cooking, cook the spaghetti in the boiling water according to package directions until al dente. Remove 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.
Add the pasta, half of the reserved cooking water, and the lemon juice to the pan with the wilted kale, and toss to combine well (use the pot you cooked the pasta in if that works better size-wise). Add more cooking water if the mixture seems dry. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
In a small bowl, stir together the toasted breadcrumbs with 1/4 cup of the Parmesan.
Transfer the pasta and kale to a serving bowl or to individual plates, and top with the Parmesan bread crumbs. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan, and serve hot or warm. Let people give their servings an extra drizzle of olive oil if they wish.
Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, “Dinner Solved!” and “The Mom 100 Cookbook.”
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