Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Braised Kale with Spaghetti, Pecorino, and Bread Crumbs

This delicious and easy vegetarian kale dish made my entire family fall in love with kale. Braising kale brings out a wonderful sweetness and tenderness, a sharp contrast to raw kale.  Given the tremendous health benefits of kale, it's no wonder that we are all trying to eat more kale. Have you seen these adorable shirts, by the way?

Around the Plate and Pour kitchen we love love love pairing pasta with dark greens like spinach, broccoli rabe, Swiss chard, and arugula from our CSA. Each dish tastes completely different and is delicious, but hands down, our absolute favorite is this braised kale pasta.

This kale spaghetti dish tastes so good that you wouldn't believe that it is good for you, much less that it is made with kale. In fact these days I get regular requests to make this dish.

Previously I shared a recipe with you for a raw kale salad, and while the nutritional benefits of eating kale raw are unsurpassable, here I braise the kale until tender, which brings out a slightness sweetness in kale.

A little lemon juice, sliced onion, lots of thinly sliced garlic, and pecorino (or parmesan) cheese is all you need. And for a nice textural contrast, top with bread crumbs toasted in olive oil (or dry toasted).

Braised Kale with Spaghetti, Pecorino, and Bread Crumbs
2 bunches lacinato (Tuscan or dinosaur) kale (1 lb), large ribs and stems removed, cut crosswise into 1/2" slices
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup parmesan or pecorino cheese, finely grated
1/2 cup bread crumbs, toasted in olive oil (see below)
1/3 lb spaghetti

Wash and rinse kale, drain but leave some water still clinging to the leaves.

Heat 2tbsp olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion, cooking until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add sliced garlic and sprinkle with salt; cook until onion is golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add kale and remaining 1 tbsp olive oil and toss until wilted, about 3 minutes. Cover pot and reduce heat to medium low. Continue cooking until kale is very tender, stirring occasionally and adding water by teaspoonfuls if dry, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt, and add spaghetti, cooking until just before al dente. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of pasta cooking liquid.

Add cooked spaghetti to pot with kale. Add lemon juice and 2 tbsp reserved cooking liquid; toss to combine, adding more liquid by tablespoonfuls if dry. Sprinkle spaghetti with grated pecorino or parmesan cheese and toasted bread crumbs. Serve immediately.

Bread crumbs toasted in olive oil
Tear 2 slices of good rustic bread into roughly 1" pieces. Grind in a food processor to coarse size leaving some pieces slightly larger. In a small sauté pan, heat 1/2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add 1/4 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs and toast until golden, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a plate and let cool.


  1. Yes, kale and pasta are a great combination! And if you are living in the bay area and want to be cool, you need to eat more kale :)

  2. This became my favorite dish! Love it!


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