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Author Notes: This is a quick and immensely satisfying dish based on the traditional Carbonara, but with some dark winter greens thrown in. Here I use lacinato kale (aka Tuscan kale, cavolo nero, or dinosaur kale) for its tenderness and earthiness, but any dark green can be substituted. Similarly, bacon or even sausage can take the place of pancetta for a slightly different flavor of pig. And though the poached egg may seem excessive when you're exhausted on a weekday night, you'll be well-rewarded when you break into it and release its creamy liquid gold. —Jessie Mai
- 1 pound thick spaghetti
- 2-3 tablespoons panko or homemade breadcrumbs
- 3 ounces pancetta
- 1 head lacinato kale, destemmed and sliced into 1" ribbons
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1-2 red chili peppers (or 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated (plus additional for sprinkling)
- 4-6 eggs (one per serving)
- olive oil
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions until al dente. Drain into a colander, reserving 1/3 cup of pasta water.
- While preparing the spaghetti, toast the panko in a skillet with a teaspoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper until golden. Pour toasted breadcrumbs into a bowl and set aside.
- Place the pancetta in the skillet and cook over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove the pancetta from the pan and place on a paper-towel lined plate to drain.
- Add the garlic and chili peppers to the rendered fat in the pan and sauté for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the kale and toss so the leaves are evenly coated in the oil. Add a pinch of salt and cook until the leaves are wilted, tossing frequently, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the reserved pasta water and cook for another minute. Add the lemon juice, cheese, and crumble the pancetta into the pan. Toss to combine, and adjust with salt and pepper to taste.
- Poach eggs using whichever method works best for you!
- Toss the warm drained pasta and kale-pancetta mixture together and divide into plates. Sprinkle a few teaspoons of the toasted breadcrumbs over each plate and top with an egg. Sprinkle additional cheese over the pasta as desired.