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Penne with Creamed Greens and Pancetta

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Penne with Creamed Greens and Pancetta

- Amanda

Greens like kale, chard and mustard are like a troublesome boyfriend. At the market, they look so appealing, so lush and irresistable. But as soon as I get them home, I find myself stressed out by how much room they take up in the fridge, and how quickly they begin to lose their lustre.

Cooking is the only way to tame them. On a recent market trip, I picked up dinosaur kale and a gorgeous bunch of broccoli rabe. By evening, when I'd grown tired of their ways at home, I tossed them both into a big pot and cooked them down with olive oil, cream and red pepper flakes. They would have made a very fine side of creamed greens (and if that's what you want, you may stop after step 2 of the recipe). These, however, had a longer journey ahead. Next I coarsely pureed the greens in a food processor, tossing in some creme fraiche for good measure. Lastly, I tossed them with penne, pancetta, and the ultimate mediator, grated pecorino cheese. This dish is big on the mineral and bitter flavors of the greens, and I liked this ruggedness. If you want to soften it up a bit, add some toasted pine nuts.

It wasn't until days after I'd made this dish that I realized its unconscious inspiration -- clearly apartmentcooker's winning recipe in the greens contest: Kale with Pancetta Cream and Toasted Rosemary Walnuts. Man, how I love creamed greens!

Penne with Creamed Greens and Pancetta

Serves 4

  • Salt
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 pound bunch broccoli rabe, rinsed and trimmed
  • 1 medium bunch dinosaur kale, rinsed and stems trimmed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/3 cup creme fraiche
  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons grated pecorino Romano

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Like this post? See Amanda's post from last week: Radish Salad with Anchovy Sauce

Photos by Jennifer Causey

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