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Kale + Pasta + Bacon = dinner recipe

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This easy dinner from the stalls at the Kensington Farmers’ Market (Sundays, 10:00 am. – 2:00 p.m. at Colusa Circle in Kensington, California) is the sort of meal you could pull together from just about any farmers’ market anywhere.

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It’s a fresh, easy, handmade main dish that could also stand in as a side dish for grilled meat (The Fifth Quarter), chicken (Great Valley Poultry) or fish (Hudson Fish). Swap out the bacon (The Fifth Quarter) for olive oil, (Big Paw), and it becomes vegetarian. Use egg-free noodles for the pasta, and it’s vegan. Gluten-free pasta makes it a meal for the gluten intolerant. Pasta Pastifico sells all three types of pasta.

The whole dish takes about 15 minutes to put together. Crisp the bacon and trim the kale (or chard) while the pasta water comes to a boil. Start the greens so that they'll sauté the greens while the pasta cooks (fresh pasta takes less than minutes to cook*). When the pasta’s done, toss it in with the greens – you don’t have to drain it too well, the starchy pasta water makes a light sauce – and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.

Finish it with a little freshly grated Parmesan at the table.

Kensington Market Kale and Pasta Sauté

4 servings

  • one to two bunches (8 ounces each) of fresh kale from your favorite farmer
  • 3 slices of bacon from Scott at The Fifth Quarter (or make it meatless with 3-4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil from Big Paw)
  • 8 ounces of fresh pasta from Phoenix Pastifico.
  1. Heat a big pot of salted water to boiling.
  2. While the water comes to a boil, wash the kale and trim out the stems. Chop the leaves into ribbons and the stems into tiny bits.
  3. Chop the bacon into ¼-inch pieces, and fry it in a large, 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat until golden and crisp. Scoop the crisp bacon out of the pan and set it aside. Leave 3-4 tablespoons of the rendered bacon fat in the pan.
  4. Add the kale leaves and stems to the pan, and sauté in the rendered fat (or 3-4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil) until tender, 3-5 minutes.
  5. Drop the pasta into the boiling water, and cook as directed (Pasta Pastifico fresh pasta takes just 90 seconds).
  6. Stir the cooked pasta into the pan of kale leaves, and continue to sauté over medium-high heat until the water and ambient starch from the pasta thicken to a light, silky sauce. Add more pasta water if the mixture is too dry.
  7. Salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Sprinkle with the reserved bacon (if using), and serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

*If you substitute dried pasta, it will take about 10 minutes to cook, so adjust your schedule accordingly: start the bacon when you drop the pasta in the water, then sauté the kale. By that time, the pasta should be ready for the frying pan.