eat your greens: kale pasta in cream sauce

I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post that, to catch the second half of the Pacers’ game, we were heading out for burgers. Well guess what, America? I. remained. vegetarian. [Pats self on back.] I still ate fries, but hey. Baby steps back to health.

I’ve also been keeping plenty of air in my skinny, skinny tires so that I can ride myself around town & have no excuses. Joe will soon be driving all over Indiana, teaching; I need to be ready for the days when I’m trapped in town with no car & three jobs. [Legs scream in shock.] No. I can do this.

To help, we’re finally doing what I keep saying we’re trying to do: eating healthy again. We’ve had some great, healthy pizzas & desserts this week. Today, I’m taking a healthy twist on the classic carbonara–but no bacon or wine. [Sniffle.] It’s okay, though. I promise. It’ll pack a flavor punch. And this is a traditional “carbonara”: no cream, & plenty of vegetarian (animal-based, sorry vegans) protein. Keep scrolling, too. With the carbonara, we had a simple turnip & radish salad. That recipe is also listed.

A note on the pasta: Use what you have on hand, but try to keep them short & with a good texture (ridges, or with the ripples of bow tie pasta) so that the sauce has places to hold on.

A note on the greens: Any hearty green is fine. Kale is just my favorite. For some reason, Icannot cook collards well. Mustard or turnip greens could be great. Fais comme tu veux.

A note on the cheese: I’m sure there’s some Parmesan in your fridge. Perfect. Regiano? Asiago? Great. The finer it’s grated, the more it incorporates into the sauce, but seriously: they’re all fine. Our grocery has a great discount cheese section, so we have a random raw milk “house cheese” that is hard. I grate it on the smallest option on my cheese grater.

Phew. Here we go: Kale & Tomato Pasta with Cream Sauce.


  • 1 pound penna pasta
  • 1 cup of reserved water from cooking the pasta
  • 1 large bunch of kale
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake
  • 1 large, ripe tomato, chopped
  • 2 eggs, whisked together in a medium bowl
  • 1/4 cup of shredded, stiff & earthy cheese (see above note)
  • salt & pepper to taste (we like less salt & more pepper)


  1. If you haven’t yet, put the two eggs in a medium bowl & give them a good whisk. Chop up your tomato, too; set it aside.
  2. Put ample water into a large pot. Add a good amount of salt to the water. While watching “Top Chef” in France last year, I heard that your pasta water should be like the sea,  which makes sense since most of our favorite pasta dishes come from coastal areas. So, I go by that. Allow to reach a rolling boil.
  3. In the mean time, prepare your kale. Wash it well. Pat it dry. Cut away the middle, stiff stem. Cut into thin strips. Here’s a how-to on kale prep. Once it’s all chopped, heat olive oil in a skillet set to medium heat. When the oil is hot, toss in the kale & crushed red pepper flake.
  4. By this time, your water should be boiling. Add the pasta & cook per package instructions. The kale should only take about five minutes to cook. It will become a deep, glossy green. Do a taste test. Is the kale still difficult to chew? Can you easily bite it in half, or do you have to put it apart with your teeth and hands? If you can easily bite it in half, it’s ready. Remove it from heat while the pasta finishes cooking.
  5. This is important. When the pasta is done, scoop out the cup of cooking water you need. Now drain the pasta. Give it a good shake, then let it sit in the colander for a minute.
  6. Temper your eggs: to your whisked eggs, add a bit of the reserved cooking water. Whisk rapidly. You want to add the water in without scrambling the eggs. This can be tricky business, but just move slowly & don’t let it stress you out. Repeat until the entire cup of water has been added to the eggs.
  7. Return the pasta to its cooking pot. Set the burner to low heat. Pour the egg & water sauce over the pasta, along with the grated cheese. Stir the pasta until the sauce thickens a bit. Add the kale. Stir. Let the pasta soak up the sauce as it thickens. In just a few minutes, the pasta should be glossy, covered in a creamy, light sauce.
  8. Toss in the tomato & give a quick stir. Serve warm.

On the side, we had this simple salad: Whisk together 1/2 teaspoon of salt, a tablespoon of sesame oil & the juice of 2 key limes. Thinly slice 8 salad turnips & two handfuls of radishes. (We used German giants, so that was about 5 radishes.) Combine the dressing & the radishes.

Why are you still reading? Eat!


About meganbetz

human geography PhD Student at Indiana University; wife, reader, writer, baker, gardener
This entry was posted in being married, not French recipes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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