Pasta with Kale and Pancetta

Food Recipes / February, 2012

A great way to use kale a superfood and hardy winter green. Plus, put enough crispy pancetta on top and you’ve got a chance at winning over kale-doubters.


Adapted from Executive Chef Mary Reilly of Enzo Restaurant & Bar in Newburyport.

Wine: Casali di Bibbiano Argante Rosso Toscano (Tuscany, Italy)
Beer: Ipswich Ale Brewery I.P.A. (Ipswich, Mass.)
Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
2 bunches kale, leaves pulled from the stems and cut into thin strips; stems discarded
4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, or thick-cut pancetta cut it into small cubes
½ a small onion, sliced into super-thin strips
1 egg, beaten, optional
parmesan cheese to taste
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
sherry vinegar to taste

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a spoonful of salt, then add the spaghetti and cook until just al dente. When the pasta is almost cooked through (just still a tiny bit chewy) add the kale to the pasta pot. When the pasta is cooked to your taste, drain the pasta and kale, reserving a cup of the cooking water (to make sure you don’t forget this part, put a coffee mug in the colander to remind you to scoop out some pasta water). Return cooked pasta and kale to the pot.

2. Sauté the pancetta in a skillet until it’s crisp. Set aside.

3. Add onion to the pasta, then stir in a little pasta water. Add in the beaten egg, if using, and keep stirring, adding more pasta water if needed to make a saucier consistency. Stir in a handful or so of parmesan cheese. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

4. To serve, divide the pasta among 6 to 8 shallow bowls. Top each with the reserved pancetta and a splash of vinegar. Serve immediately.