Weeknight Cooking

Mustard Cream Rigatoni With Lots of Kale

January 24, 2022
13 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Prop Stylist: Molly Fitzsimons. Food Stylist: Ericka Martins.
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 2 to 4
Author Notes

I always thought of mustard as a spread on sandwiches or ingredient in salad dressings, but my eyes were opened to its potential in pasta sauce after eating at a charming French restaurant in Brooklyn a few years ago. Though Pates et Traditions recently shuttered, I still dream about the joint’s mustard penne with chicken and onions—so much so that I created my own version.

Garlic and shallot are sautéed in butter until softened and fragrant, then simmered with Dijon mustard, heavy cream, and vegetable stock to create a spectacular sauce. The mustardy flavor is more subtle than you may think, but the Dijon’s tanginess (along with a touch of honey, which you shouldn’t skip!) is key to cutting through the butter and cream, adding endless nuance.

Dijon mustard actually gets its name from the French city, where much of the country’s mustard was produced beginning in the 14th century, but we can thank Jean Naigeon for what we now know as the unique taste of the condiment: He tweaked the recipe to include verjuice (sour juice from unripened grapes) instead of vinegar. For this pasta, stick to Dijon mustard for the best balance of flavor and consistency.

I like using chopped Tuscan kale in the sauce (for color, texture, and, yes, nutrition), but feel free to swap in another hardy green if you prefer—chard or mustard greens would work well. No rigatoni on hand? Substitute another short pasta like penne, fusilli, or ziti. Regardless of the greens and pasta shape you choose, this creamy, comforting sauce makes memorable use of a pantry staple, the perfect way to combat the winter blues. —Joy Cho

What You'll Need
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock (not low-sodium)
  • 3 cups roughly chopped Tuscan kale leaves (from 1 large bunch)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 pound rigatoni (or other short pasta shape)
  1. Set a large pot of water over high heat to come to a boil.
  2. Melt the butter in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté until fragrant and the shallots are softened, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in the mustard—it’s normal for separation to occur, and the sauce will come together as you add the other ingredients. Pour in the cream and vegetable stock and increase the heat to medium-high.
  4. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until it slightly thickens, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low. Add the kale to the pan and cook until the greens soften, 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Add the salt, pepper, and honey and continue to cook for 2 to 3 more minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed, then turn off the heat.
  6. Generously salt the boiling water. Cook the rigatoni according to package instructions until al dente, reserve 1 cup of pasta water, then drain the pasta.
  7. Add the pasta to the pot with the sauce, returning the heat under the pan to low. Toss to combine, adding a splash of pasta water if necessary to reach a consistency you love. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Dariusz
  • Taylor Stanton
    Taylor Stanton
  • Lisa Stein
    Lisa Stein
  • Joy Cho
    Joy Cho

12 Reviews

Dariusz February 27, 2024
Quick, creamy, easy, tasty. Maybe a bit too fatty. We enjoyed it.
Taylor S. December 17, 2023
An absolutely fabulous and easy weeknight meal! This recipe is perfect.
colleenmeara February 8, 2022
Any substitutes for the heavy cream to make this vegan-friendly? I’m thinking cashew cream instead of coconut…
Lisa S. February 9, 2022
I'm vegan, and plan to use the silk heavy cream product.
colleenmeara February 10, 2022
Good idea, thank you! I need to look for this again, I haven’t been able to find it yet but I would love to try it. Thanks again :)
Lindy August 2, 2023
maybe make a cashew cream?
Lisa S. February 7, 2022
Ideas for a honey substitution?
TooMuch5320 February 7, 2022
Agave? That’s always my alternative
Lisa S. February 7, 2022
Typically mine as well, just wasn't sure if maybe brown sugar was a better option. Will try both. ;)
AnnPMoon February 2, 2022
This was wonderful. Made it exactly as the recipe recommends, didn’t chanter a thing. Loved it. Adding to the regular weeknight dinner rotation.
Auntmille January 30, 2022
This will, definitely, go into our meal rotation! This is a very tasty dish.
Joy C. January 30, 2022
Thank you for giving it a try! :)