Mom serves bitter greens againMom serves bitter greens again

I went to the East Liberty location of the city Farmers’ Markets again yesterday, and in keeping with my vow to try something new every time I go there I purchased some Russian red garlic and a variety of kale I had never tried before, the name of which I forgot almost as soon as the vendor told it to me. I also bought some arugula from the same fellow, an organic farmer named Mick Luber from Bluebird Farm in Cadiz, Ohio. He’s been very patient with me for two weeks in a row now.

One thing I learned, and that is that fresh garlic is not the same thing as green garlic; this stuff was pungent! I bought two long stalks of it; Mr. Luber told me that every part of the stalk, from the roots to the leaves, are edible and taste of garlic. I had intended to use both of them in tonight’s recipe, but after cleaning and chopping one stalk quickly realized that one was enough if not too much. The following recipe is adapted from one on the Epicurious website that originally called for sausage. That probably would have been better, but unfortunately my corner market didn’t have any sausage except bratwurst (gag!) so I substituted capicola. The garlic, onion, chilies, and arugula are all my own additions as well. My menfolk seem to have tolerated the taste of the bitter greens much better in this dish than in their previous presentation; I don’t know if it’s because this one has meat in it or because it’s spicy and they like that.

Fettuccine with kale and ham

1/4 cup olive oil
1 bulb fresh garlic, with stem and green leaves, cleaned and finely diced
1-2 small fresh red chili peppers, cleaned and minced
1 bunch arugula, washed, trimmed, and coarsely chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/4-1/2 lb. capicola, sliced into julienne
1 bunch kale, tough stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
12 oz. dried egg fettuccine—I used whole grain
2/3 cup chicken broth
1 oz finely grated pecorino romano (1/2 cup) plus additional for serving

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until hot, then cook garlic, chilies, arugula, onion, and ham. If your chillies aren’t spicy enough like mine weren’t you can add some red pepper flakes at this point and cook them in the oil as well.

Meanwhile, blanch kale in a 6-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, 5 minutes or longer if you like it very tender the way we do. Remove kale with a large sieve and drain. Return cooking water in pot to a boil, then cook pasta in boiling water, uncovered, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta in a colander.

While pasta cooks, add kale to ingredients in skillet and sauté, stirring frequently, until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add broth, stirring and scraping up any brown bits from bottom of skillet, then add pasta and 1/2 cup reserved cooking water to skillet, tossing until combined. Stir in cheese and thin with additional cooking water if desired.

Serve immediately, with additional cheese on the side.

*Just to clarify; I like bratwurst but think it would be revolting in this dish!


I don’t think bratwurst would be good with this either but using capicolla sounds inspired. This is my kind of meal — pasta with bitter greens and spicy meat.

This sounds similar to a pasta I made last year with kale and pancetta. The bitterness and saltiness work beautifully together.

I’m with Julie. The idea of the spicy cured meat with the bitter greens is a natural, albeit one I never thought of. It’s kind of an Italian version of greens and hamhocks…I love cappicola, too.

Add a comment