A Girl & Her Food: Orecchiette with Pancetta, Tuscan Kale & Oregano


Orecchiette with Pancetta, Tuscan Kale & Oregano

Like most home cooks, I always want recipes that are fast and easy, yet taste extraordinary.  Fortunately for you and I, the following dish fits this description!  This is a quick weeknight dinner pasta dish that gives you greens and protein in an effortless way. If you are a vegetarian, or have one to consider, omit the pancetta and add a combination of red and green kale. 

Speaking of greens, gardening season is finally here, and that means fresh herbs.  As you may know, I LOVE cooking with fresh herbs, and they will appear in almost every meal I make at home.  I believe when one cooks with fresh herbs, it makes it easy to achieve amazing results in taste and presentation.  I find great pleasure in the harvesting my own food; it tastes better! I encourage people to grow your own herbs; it's a rewarding and easy project.  Even though I live in the city of Chicago, I have a backyard garden with tons of different herbs and vegetables. Its a small investment, 3 herbs for $10 at Home Depot, but will keep rejuvenating and providing goods all Summer long.


1 bunch of Tuscan kale
12 ounces of orecchiette pasta
4 ounces of pancetta, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons of Greek oregano, roughly chopped
1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Wash the kale,remove leaves from rib, and roughly chop the leaves into about 1 inch sections.  Stir the orecchiette into the boiling water. While the pasta cooks, in a large skillet render the pancetta in the olive oil over medium high heat, stirring often, until it browns. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes, for about 30-60 seconds, add the kale or how much kale will fit into the skillet. Toss the kale with tongs until it wilts down, and add the rest of the kale if needed. Ladle about 1/4 cup of the pasta water into the pan. Toss in the oregano and continue to cook until the kale wilts for another 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper accordingly to your taste but I think the pancetta already contributes enough saltiness flavor. When the pasta is cooked "al dente" drain it and add it to the skillet.Grate Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve in a swallow pasta bowl. Enjoy!

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