Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Kale

I'm finding that the older I get, the more my tastes evolve towards the healthy end of the food spectrum. When I was in college, I pretty much lived on nothing but carbs--bagels, pasta, and pizza slices were my constant companions. And then when I graduated and moved to NYC, my all-consuming job as a fashion assistant at ELLE magazine left me with little to no time to think about what I was eating, and so Thai takeaway became my go-to meal way more often than I'd like to admit.

It wasn't until a few years ago that I felt settled enough to start focusing on cooking meals from scratch, paying careful attention to every ingredient that went into them. And along with that consciousness, a funny thing happened--the more I ate good foods, the more I craved them. Suddenly, I wanted egg white omelettes with spinach instead of sausage, egg, and cheese sandwiches. I picked simple grilled fishes over fried chicken. I ate fresh strawberries in place of chocolate bars. Don't get me wrong, I'm no saint and I've never been on an actual diet in my life; I eat what I want when I want. It's just that the things I want are the things that make me feel good and strong and healthy for the most part (although, fried chicken/french fry/cheeseburger binges definitely happen on occasion and I have small pieces of chocolate pretty much every day).

Despite my tentative foray into healthy eating, whole wheat pasta was just not something I've ever been down with--I love pasta in all it's myriad shapes and forms and I was always reluctant to mess with it. I caved a couple of weeks ago for this recipe from Lidia Bastianich's impressive archive, and now, here I stand on the other side telling you that it's all good. Seriously. You can't even tell the difference. If anything, it's slightly nuttier, which makes it (dare I say) even more delicious. Also, it has less calories and it's way more nutritious. Give it a go. xo

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Kale
Serves 4
1 1/2 pounds kale
1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
Large pinch of dried red chili flakes
4 garlic cloves, chopped

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, prepare the kale. Remove tough stems from kale and discard. Coarsely chop the kale leaves. Rinse thoroughly and drain.

When the water comes to a boil, add a good handful of salt and the spaghetti. Cook until it is al dente.

While the pasta cooks, heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add about half the oil, the onion, chili flakes and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender and lightly colored, 5 to 7 minutes. Reduce heat if necessary to prevent onion from scorching. Add kale and cook, tossing and stirring, until wilted and tender, about 3 minutes. Add water if dry or cover to create steam if necessary. Add garlic, season with salt, and cook 2 minutes more being careful not to brown the garlic.

Reserve a cup of pasta water and then drain pasta when done. Add pasta to saute pan and toss to combine, loosen with a splash of the pasta water if necessary and taste for salt, adjusting as needed. Transfer to warm bowls. Drizzle thin stream of olive oil on top. Garnish with shavings of parmesan.


  1. Simplicity at its best. I couldn't agree more - I've tended towards more healthy eating as well, apart from daily sqaures of dark chocolate though!