Whole wheat penne rigate with kale, chilli, garlic and Pecorino Romano


First published in 2017
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This simple pasta dish is a vegetable-enriched twist on the ‘aglio olio e peperoncino’ (garlic, oil and chilli) pasta that is so beloved in Italy.

The base remains unaltered. It all begins with a good dose of garlic- and chilli-infused oil in which the pasta is tossed until well seasoned. What changes things up a bit is the addition of greens, which, in addition to the wholegrain nature of the pasta, contribute to a more nutritious and – dare I say – visually tempting dish.

I chose kale in this recipe, but really, you can use whatever you have on hand. Cavolo nero would work wonders, as would spring greens or any sort of leafy brassica or mustard greens like turnip tops – go with your taste buds and follow the seasons.

The dose of chilli listed here makes the lot mildly hot. You might want to start with half the amount if you have little tolerance for spicy foods; and then taste, and adjust as needed.

This pasta really shines when topped with a generous dusting of salty Pecorino Romano, but if you struggle to find it, regular Parmesan will do, too.




Whole wheat penne rigate with kale and Pecorino Romano

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Blanch the kale for 1 minute to tenderise it, then drain with a slotted spoon and plunge into a bowl of iced water to preserve its brightness. Drain again, pat dry, and set aside
Let the water come back to a rolling boil and add the penne. Cook until al dente, stirring it a couple of times to avoid it sticking to the bottom
Meanwhile, place a large skillet over a medium heat. Pour in the oil and, when hot, stir in the garlic and chilli. Fry for a minute – just long enough for the garlic to infuse the oil without burning. Add the kale and stir-fry for 2 minutes, until just tender but still holding its shape and colour
Once cooked, drain the pasta and add it to the skillet with the kale. Sauté for 30 seconds or until well coated in the garlic and chilli oil. Season to taste, top with Pecorino Romano and serve immediately
First published in 2017
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