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Pasta with Collard Greens and Bacon

October 30, 2009

OK, this could also be called “Pasta with Kale and Sausage” or “Pasta with Kale and Bacon” or “Pasta with Collards and Sausage,” but you get the idea.

This is, seriously, probably one of my favorite dishes ever. Justin and I make it often. You can use fresh or frozen kale or collards, so it’s pretty-much a year-round dish.

For the pasta, we’ve used long and thin (linguini or fettuccini) or short and squat (penne or rotini). I like to use whole wheat pasta, but Justin prefers traditional white pasta. Of course, whole wheat is better for you. Try to buy a more expensive brand of whole grain pasta. I’ve heard the cheaper brands compared to cardboard, and it’s true.

For the bacon or sausage: don’t skimp on quality. In Grand Rapids, it’s pretty easy to get local bacon or sausage at the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market. Cheap grocery store bacon is plumped up with water, so paying more is definitely worth is. You get more meat and flavor. If you’re cutting down on cholesterol-high foods like bacon, don’t ask me if turkey bacon or soy bacon works. I don’t know. I probably will never try it, but if you do, leave a note so that other readers can know if it worked or not.

Pasta with Collard Greens and Bacon

Serves 4-6 (more like 4 if you’re not serving anything else)

10 bacon slices or 1/2 lb. bulk Italian sausage

3/4 C. pine nuts

1/4 shallots, finely chopped, or onions if you don’t have shallots

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 t. dried hot pepper flakes

2 T. olive oil

3 lbs. collard greens, stems and center ribs chopped finely, leaves chopped

1/4 t. salt

2 C. water

1 lb. dried pasta

1 lb. tomatoes, fresh or canned

1 C. Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings, made with a vegetable peeler from a 6-8 oz. wedge

Cook the bacon or sausage in a 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp (for bacon) or cooked (for sausage), about 5 minutes, then transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 3 T. bacon fat from pot. Add pine nuts to pot and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer nuts with slotted spoon to paper towels to drain and season with salt.

Add shallots and collard (or kale) stems to pot and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add oil and half of collard greens and cook, stirring, until slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Add remaining greens and salt and continue to cook, stirring, until greens are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes more. Add water and cover pot, then simmer greens, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 15 minutes.

While collard greens are simmering, cook pasta according to the package instructions until al dente.

Drain pasta in a colander. Add drained linguine and tomatoes to pot with greens and cook over moderately high heat, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Season pasta with salt and pepper and serve topped with bacon (or sausage), pine nuts, and cheese shavings.

Don’t tell your cardiologist.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Hope Long permalink
    December 4, 2009 6:55 pm

    Joy, this sounds so good. I am about to leave work, & now I’m absolutely starving! I’ve printed it out to take to the grocery with me this weekend…

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