Friday, March 8, 2013

Ditalini with Braised Kale, Bacon and White Beans

I love kale. I really do. It's kind of wierd because kale is this tough leafy green that just screams "I'm SURE you do NOT want to eat me!" It just looks scary. But it's one of my most favorite greens on the planet. It's hearty and earthy and brings such a lovely chew to dishes and by god, it's good for you too! Crazy I know. I also quite adore cannelini beans. It somewhat borders on obsessed. In soups and stews and right out of the can (or pot if I've taken the time to cook fresh ones). They bring such creaminess to any recipe that's so satisfying and again, amazing, but good for you. So I decided to take these two healthy items and, well, dress them with bacon and cheese and toss them with pasta for what is becoming one of my all time favorite dishes. Yes, I took healthy vegetables and made, less healthy. But it's still kind of healthy. I mean, there are greens and legumes in here. Some credit please? But seriously, this was so fast (less than 30 minutes) and so satisfying that I ate all the leftovers for breakfast and now I'm pissed I don't have more for lunch. I am seriously obsessed with this dish. And go for the Ditalini if you can find it, super fun shape to to eat! Enjoy!

Brasied Kale and Bacon with Ditalini Pasta
a girl and her kitchen

3 slices of bacon, diced
2 shallots, diced
2 garlice cloves, minced
2 bunches of kale, chopped small
1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional, increase for more heat)
salt and pepper
1 c chicken stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 can cannelini (or other small white bean), drained and rinsed (or cook them fresh!)
1/2 c ricotta part skim
1/4 c low fat greek yogurt (could skip ricotta and use all yogurt for a tangier sauce)
1/2 c pecorino cheese, grated plus more for topping
1 lb ditalini or other short pasta shape you love
1/3 c reserved pasta cooking liquid
1 lemon, juiced
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp good olive oil

Bring a large pot of well salted water to boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. I always under cook my pasta by at least 1 minute as it will cook slightly more in the sauce. Reserve some pasta cooking liquid.

While pasta water is coming to boil/pasta is cooking, in a highsided saute pan, cook the bacon until browned and crisp over medium heat. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool/drain on paper towel.
In the same pan (keeping the bacon grease) add the shallot and garlic, cooking 2 minutes until shallot begins to just soften. Add the kale and red pepper flakes and turn to coat. Season with a pinch of salt. Let saute for 3-5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste and rosemary and stir well to combine, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Let simmer lightly as the kale softens (5-10 minutes).

Add butter to pan along with the beans and continue to cook on medium heat until the beans warm through. Add the pasta to the pan and mix well. Add the ricotta, yogurt, pecorino, lemon juice, 1 tbsp of good olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper and stir to combine. To loosen the sauce, add the pasta water one tbsp at a time until desired consistency. Add bacon. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.

Serve warm with extra pecorino for topping.

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