Spaghetti with Tomato Braised Kale

I'll be the first to admit it.  When I saw this recipe on seriouseats.com, it sounded...well....different. Different in a weird but intriguing sort of way. The recipe sounded simple enough. It was a good picture...which quickly sparked my interest.

See! Not so bad looking.  Plus it was full of kale. After reading its many health benefits (full of vitamins A, C and K, great source of iron, fiber and low on cholesterol) I was searching for ways to incorporate this uber nutritious veggie into our diet.  And it's that time of year when hearty meals are just what one craves on these chilly nights.  So to combine the comfort feeling you get with a bowl of pasta while it still being nutritious and not overly carb inducing, I thought this dish would work perfectly.

This dish has a very light sauce unlike most spaghetti's.  The recipe calls for tomato puree, which I did not have.  I thought I did until I got home from the store and actual looked in my very full pantry...to no avail.  But I did have a can of tomato sauce and tomato paste.  So I improvised and combined the two, trying to achieve the flavor balance you get with tomato puree. It worked out perfectly.  I was hesitant about using the stems from the kale but they soften quite a bit and added a nice bite to the finished meal.  The kale leaves thinly sliced in ribbons blends well with the spaghetti noodles.  And...I was a rebel and used pancetta as the recipe calls for.  Mr. Foodie was aware and survived.  Sometimes I just want to flavor you get from pork.

All in all, I give this dish a two thumbs up and will definitely make it again. Of course Mr. Foodie thought it was "different" at first but liked it the more he ate it. It was flavorful, healthy and made multiple servings (great leftovers for lunch).  So go ahead. Be adventurous. And if you decide to try it, I'd love to know what you think.

Spaghetti with Tomato Braised Kale
Printable Recipe
serves 6

2 oz think sliced pancetta, diced (can use 2 tablespoons of olive oil if you don't want to use meat)
1 onion, diced
6 sun-dried tomatoes, minced
1 bunch kale, stems removes and sliced thin, leaves sliced into thin ribbons (lay the leaves on top of one another, roll them and then slice them crosswise)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup white wine
10 oz. tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste (or you can use 2 cups tomato puree instead of the sauce and paste)
10 oz. dried spaghetti (I used whole wheat pasta because that is what I had in the pantry)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

In a large saute pan, cook the pancetta over medium heat.  Cook until the fat is rendered and the pancetta is crisp, approximately 10 minutes.  Add the onions, kale stems, sun-dried tomatoes, red pepper flakes and salt to the saute pan.  Cook together, stirring often until the onions and kale stems begin to soften, approximately 10 minutes more. Add the garlic and kale leaves and stir constantly until the leaves begin to wilt and the garlic is fragrant, 2 minutes.

Add the white wine and stir, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of  the pan.  Add the tomato sauce and paste (or puree) and bring to a boil.  Then turn the heat down to simmer and let cook partially covered for about 20 minutes.

While sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the spaghetti and boil for a little more than half the recommended cooking time as suggested on the package. Using tongs, transfer the pasta into the kale and tomato sauce, along with 1 cup of pasta water.  Add the cheese and stir to combine. Cover and simmer until the pasta is finished cooking, about 10 minutes. 

Top with additional cheese and serve.

adapted from seriouseats.com

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