This recipe is adapted from Sarah Copeland's forthcoming book, "Feast" (Chronicle Books).The deep savoriness of tuscan kale, a backyard-garden staple in northern Italy, makes a superb foundation for soups, sides, and vegetarian mains. In this deceptively simple dish (the onions are essentially quick-pickled right in the pan), the orecchiette is practically treated as a condiment. As soon as you sit at the table, stir a few slices of semisoft goat cheese into the hot greens and pasta until they soften. You'll think to yourself, I could live on this stuff.

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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and red-pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until onion is softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle with sugar and toss to coat. Add vinegar and cook until completely reduced, about 1 minute. Season mixture with salt and remove from skillet.

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  • Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to skillet and increase heat to medium-high. Add kale in batches and cook, stirring, until greens are wilted and just tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Season with salt. Return onion mixture to pan, stir to combine, and cook until just heated through.

  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain pasta.

  • Return pasta to pot, along with kale, butter, and Pecorino. Cook over medium heat, stirring and adding enough pasta water to form a light sauce that coats pasta. Add nutmeg to taste and season with salt. Divide among 4 bowls and serve each with a few thin slices of goat cheese on top and red-pepper flakes to taste.

Cook's Notes

Alternatives: Although the almost meaty quality of tuscan kale takes this dish over the top, other kale varieties are able stand-ins. In addition to pasta, kale has a great affinity for potatoes and white beans. Feel free to play.

Reviews (2)

36 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 7
  • 4 star values: 8
  • 3 star values: 10
  • 2 star values: 8
  • 1 star values: 3
Rating: 4 stars
07/07/2013
Great dish! Left out the pasta and didn't miss it. The sweetness and creaminess of the goat cheese was a fantastic compliment to the slight bitterness of the kale. Delicious and hearty.
Rating: Unrated
03/25/2013
Delicious!