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Topping gives nutritious kale pasta extra punch

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    To make kale easier to slice, remove the thick stem. Simply hold a leaf upside down and strip off the sides. Don’t wash kale until just before using it or the leaves will blacken and spoil.

There are lots of varieties of kale on the market. They start appearing now and stay seasonal all through the winter.

You can play around with any and all of them in this recipe.

You also can use other dark greens, like mustard greens, collards, Swiss chard — even chopped broccolini or broccoli rabe. Spinach is another option, but cook it for only about 4 or 5 minutes or it will probably get a bit too soft.

Recipes for pasta mixed with greens are easy to find, but this one is elevated and made super-amazing by the topping of Parmesan-infused fried fresh breadcrumbs. And a smidge of anchovies and red pepper flakes.

I always rush to mention that if you have people at the table who think they don’t like anchovies, you should conveniently forget to tell them about the anchovies in this dish. Mince them fine and they won’t be recognizable.

But just leave out the information, not the anchovies, which add a lot to the flavor of the dish. (Unless you’re serving a possible vegetarian, then full disclosure is in order.)

Pasta With Sauteed Kale and Toasted Breadcrumbs

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 4 oil- or salt-packed anchovy fillets, rinsed and minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 2 pounds kale, thick stems cut off, rinsed well and roughly chopped
  • 1 pound dry spaghetti
  • Juice from 1 lemon, divided
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • >> Breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and season generously with salt.

TIPS

To make kale easier to slice, remove the thick stem. Simply hold a leaf upside down and strip off the sides. Don’t wash kale until just before using it or the leaves will blacken and spoil.

Meanwhile, make breadcrumbs: Heat oil in a very large, deep skillet with a lid over medium heat. Add bread crumbs, season with salt and pepper, and toast them, stirring frequently, until breadcrumbs are light golden brown, about 4 minutes.

Add garlic and cook and stir for another minute, until you can smell the garlic. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the toasted crumbs to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Pour out any remaining oil and wipe out the skillet with paper towels (carefully!).

To prepare pasta and sauce: Return skillet to burner, add oil and heat on medium. Add minced garlic, anchovies and red pepper flakes; stir for a few seconds.

Add kale and 1/4 cup water (if the kale is damp from rinsing it, skip the additional water), partially cover the pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the kale is fairly wilted and tender.

While kale is cooking, cook spaghetti in boiling water according to package directions until al dente. Remove 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.

Add cooked pasta, half of the reserved cooking water, and the lemon juice to the pan with the wilted kale, and toss to combine well (use the pot you cooked the pasta in if that works better size-wise).

Add more cooking water if the mixture seems dry. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

In a small bowl, stir together the toasted breadcrumbs with 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese.

Transfer the pasta and kale to a serving bowl or to individual plates, and top with the Parmesan breadcrumbs. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan, and serve hot or warm. Let people give their servings an extra drizzle of olive oil if they wish. Serves 6.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 518 calories, 17 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 12 mg cholesterol, 211 mg sodium, 75 g carbohydrate, 8 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 19 g protein.

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