Orecchiette with Tuscan Kale and Roasted Peppers


Timing does not need to be perfect to pull off this dish. In fact, I often have some or all of the parts made ahead of time. This is a good one for me to have ready to go on a night when I drive my daughter to a lesson. Particularly if it’s swim class, I have a 10-minute window from the time we get home before her mood goes completely south!

The Make Ahead Plan
·      Toast the pine nuts on a baking sheet in a 325˚F oven, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Increase the oven temperature to 400˚F and make the Crispy Oven-Roasted Chickpeas. Loosen them with a spatula, and leave on the baking sheet. They’ll be more chewy than crunchy, but still delicious.

·      Cook the orecchiette and drain in a colander, reserving about 1 cup of pasta water. Rinse under cold water until completely cooled. Line a baking sheet with a towel and pour them out on it and cover with another towel.

I used to really dislike recipes that called for 12 ounces of dried pasta, but now I sort of do it on purpose. I will always cook the full pound knowing I will have some leftover. Usually it ends up in soup.

·      Cook the kale and keep in the sauté pan. Cut up the roasted peppers and add to the pan. Give a quick reheat when you get home and pick up the instructions below where the pasta is added. You might need to add a bit more liquid as you reheat.



Serves 6 (or in my house 3 with leftovers for lunch the next day or two)

12 ounces dried orecchiette (three-quarters of a box)
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup ¼-inch diced white onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
8 cups torn Tuscan kale leaves in 1-inch pieces
¾ cup water
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 whole roasted red peppers (that’s usually what’s in a 12-ounce jar), cut into ¼- by 3-inch strips
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
Parmigiano-Reggiano, optional
¾ cup Crispy Oven-Roasted Chickpeas with garlic and parsley

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Heat a film of oil in a large sauté pan (with a lid, you’ll need it later) over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the onions are a light golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the kale and water. Cover the pan and lower the heat to medium-low. Let the kale steam, stirring once or twice, until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.

Remove the lid and continue to cook until the kale is completely tender, up to 10 minutes more. If the pan begins to dry out, add a little more water, about a tablespoon at a time, and continue to cook until the kale is tender.

While the kale is cooking, add the orecchiette to the boiling water and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions, about 11 minutes.

Remove the garlic cloves from the kale. Stir in the vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the roasted pepper strips.

Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water.

Add the pasta to the kale mixture, stirring to incorporate. Add pasta water a little at a time to thicken the mixture as you are stirring. (You won’t use it all.) Depending on my mood, I might use a Microplane to add about ¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano at this point. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the toasted pine nuts.

Serve family-style or divide among bowls. Top with the crunchy chickpeas. Using a wide vegetable peeler, peel shavings of the Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top, if using.

My daughter's portion. And, she ate the whole thing!

My daughter's portion. And, she ate the whole thing!