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Photo by: Joey DeLeo
This is a quick pasta to satisfy cool-weather cravings for greens. I’ve been making it ever since I tasted a similar dish in Rome many years ago. I was so enthused, I brought back seeds for the slender-leaved black kale that it was made with, and planted them in my own garden with great success. Now I often see this cavalo nero sold in markets here, but any kind of kale, green or red, will be just as good in the dish.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Wash the kale, leaving the leaves wet, and chop it into 1-inch sections, discarding the tough bottom inch or two of the stems.
Stir the orecchiette into the boiling water. While the pasta is cooking, render the pancetta in the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until it begins to brown. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes, and after half a minute or so, add as much of the chopped kale as will fit in the pan. Toss the kale with tongs until it wilts down, and then add the rest of the kale. Ladle about ¼ cup of the pasta cooking liquid into the pan, toss in the oregano, and continue to cook until the kale is no longer tough (it will not be completely tender either), 3 to 4 minutes. Taste and add salt if it needs it (the pancetta might contribute enough).
When the pasta is tender but still firm, drain it and add it to the skillet. Sprinkle with the cheese, toss it all together, and serve in warm shallow bowls.
Nutrients per serving (% daily value)
Nutritional information is based on 1/8 teaspoon added salt per serving.