Wednesday, January 4

Kale Pesto Pasta with Pancetta

One of the things I love about cooking is being able to take a dish or an idea and transform it into several different variations. This recipe starts with a foundation of kale pesto, but can be changed based on diet, leftovers, or personal preference. Since I made this during “Eat Anything You Want” week, I included indulgences like heavy cream and pancetta, but vegetarians or healthier eater might want to swap in brown-rice pasta instead of regular and use toasted whole-wheat breadcrumbs instead of crispy pancetta. Extras like grilled chicken or steamed veggies would also be a hearty addition. Feel free to customize the dish however you like or stick with the recipe verbatim – either way, it’ll be delicious!

Kale Pesto Pasta with Pancetta:
  • Add 4 oz. diced pancetta to a hot, dry skillet and cook for 6-8 minutes, or until crispy and fat has rendered.
  • Remove pancetta and set aside, leaving fat in the pan. Add in a large pinch of red chili flakes and 3 cloves of minced garlic.
  • Add in 1 large head of kale and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until it begins to wilt.
  • Then add in 3/4 c. chicken stock and 1/4 c. white wine and let kale braise for another 8-10 minutes, or until very tender.
  • Turn heat off kale and bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add in 1 lb. pasta* and cook according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, transfer kale mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Stir in 1/4 c. grated Pecorino Romano cheese and season with salt** and pepper to taste.
  • Add kale pesto back to the skillet over very low heat.
  • Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 c. pasta cooking liquid, and add to the pan with the pesto.
  • Toss to combine, adding pasta water as necessary to moisten.
  • Divide onto plates and sprinkle with crispy pancetta.

Serves four
*I used buccatini.
**Be careful adding salt, it will already be salty from the cheese and chicken stock.