Orecchiete with Kale and Bacon

Call me a late adopter, but I’m hooked on my local farmer’s market. It helps when the location is perfectly within walking distance – any pedestrian marketer just has to cross a six lane highway first. Depending on the day, I’ll stroll through and pick up locally made hummus, honey, mustard, Nutella creme burlee, and always, always produce. Most days, I head straight for my favorite tent: The Backyard Farmer and Feed. Every week – even this Saturday when it was nothing but April Showers outside – I’m able to stock my vegetables and fruits until the next week. In the early days of Southwest spring, there’s plenty of kale and chard – two greens I hadn’t given much though to when I roam the produce aisle at my local grocer. I’ve heard talk that kale is bitter, but I’ve never experienced it. Here, paired with crispy, salty bacon; caramelized onion; and, orecchiette pasta, kale adds color and texture to this light lunch or dinner dish.

Unlike my first kale experiment – a traditional white bean and kale soup, for which I cooked the kale to the point where it became slimy, in this dish the Kale is cooked very briefly with the pasta. The kale retains it’s bright color and mild taste. The bacon adds the salt of the dish and adds a nice crunch to bites of pasta. Plus, who doesn’t like bacon? (Except maybe those vegetarians out there). Onions contribute a base and flavor, and a pinch of red pepper flakes give the whole dish a bit of a kick. A hearty dash of pepper rounds out the experience. I enjoyed mine with a glass of Vino Verde on my patio.

Orecchiette - or "little ears" - pasta.

Kale and Orecchiette Pasta

Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

1 bunch of kale, rinsed and chopped.

2 slices of bacon

1 bushel of spring onions, thinly sliced. Or half medium onion, diced.

1/2 lbs oreccheitte pasta (farfalle or medium shells will work if oreccheitte is unavailable)

Pinch or two of red pepper flakes

Pepper to taste. Salt if desired

1. Crisp the bacon in a saute pan over medium heat. Once cooked, remove to a paper-towel covered plate. Allow the bacon to grease to drain into the paper towel. Break the bacon into smaller crumbles.

2. While the bacon is cooking, bring a pasta water to boil. Add salt to the boiling water, then the pasta. Cook the pasta according to package directions, usually about 10 to 11 minutes until al dente.

3. While the pasta is cooking, chop the kale. Add the kale to the final 2 to 3 minutes of pasta cook time. Drain along with the pasta, reserving one cup pasta water.

4. Saute the onion and red pepper flakes in the same saute pan used to cook the bacon.

5. Combine pasta and kale combination with the sauteed onion and red pepper sauce.  Add pasta water to thicken the sauce. Sprinkle bacon on top and serve.


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