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A Seasonal Pesto that Tames Winter Greens

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Basil pesto is a tease, a summer love—during warmer days, we couldn't get enough of each other. But as soon as summer came to an end, so did basil, with promises that we'd be reunited next year. And in its place came harsher greens like chard and broccoli rabe and mustard.

Penne with Creamed Greens and Pancetta
Penne with Creamed Greens and Pancetta

These winter greens, Amanda Hesser writes in the headnote to her recipe, Penne with Creamed Greens and Pancetta, are more troublesome than lush, mild basil:


At the market, they look so appealing, so lush and irresistible. 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.

But with patience—and the right chemistry—Amanda has transformed these greens into a harmonious marriage, where the bitterness of the rabe is tamed by heavy cream and pecorino, with pancetta serving as a mediator. Sure, you might still find us missing basil, but our lonely, pesto-less days are over:

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Penne with Creamed Greens and Pancetta

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Serves 4
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice (optional)
  • 1 pound broccoli rabe, rinsed and trimmed
  • 1 medium bunch dinosaur kale, rinsed and stems trimmed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
  • 1/3 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • 3 tablespoons grated pecorino Romano, plus more to finish
Go to Recipe

What's your favorite way to enjoy pesto through the winter? Tell us in the comments below!

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Pasta, Vegetable, Wildcard Winners, Pesto