In my continuing obsession with all things autumn-related, today I took a walk over to the farmer's market in my neighborhood of Astoria to gather seasonal goodies for lunch. There I found some gorgeous Tuscan kale, and all sorts of squash and apples. Naturally, I bought more than I could reasonably carry and awkwardly shuffle-shuffled home, cursing myself because I just had to have that huge, round kabocha squash. Ah well! Cooking is nothing if not a labor of love.
This is a simple recipe inspired by this recent post from one of the food blogs I follow, Dinner: A Love Story.
Pasta with Kale and Pancetta
6 to 8 servings
1 lb. (whole wheat) pasta (I like fusilli for the way the diced pancetta gets stuck in the curls)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 lb. pancetta, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bunch Tuscan kale, stem ends removed and roughly chopped
good red pepper flakes to taste (I'm obsessed with the Calabrese kind from Buon Italia in Chelsea Market!)
salt to taste
3 oz. crumbled goat cheese
Put up a large pot of water on high heat. Once it comes to a boil, salt generously and add the pasta. Cook according to the package instructions. Drain, reserving at least 2 cups of pasta water.
In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the pancetta. Cook until browned, then add the garlic and cook another minute or so. Carefully add the kale on top (it will sputter and hiss when the oil meets the water) and let it wilt into the pan. After the racket dies down, add salt and red pepper flakes, stir, and cook another 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large bowl or tray, mix the pasta, kale/pancetta mixture, and the goat cheese. Toss to allow the heat to melt the goat cheese, if it seems too dry, slowly pour in pasta water to your liking. Serve hot, with extra red pepper flakes on the side.