Meat Lite: Spaghetti with Tomato-Braised Kale

Meat Lite: Spaghetti with Tomato-Braised Kale

Editor's note: Philly food writers Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond drop by weekly with Meat Lite, which celebrates meat in moderation. Meat Lite was inspired by their book, Almost Meatless.

[Photograph: Dan Call]

Everyone loves a plate of pasta, but most pasta preparations are more comforting than nutritious, usually calling for more than the recommended 2 ounce serving of pasta. This recipe is half spaghetti and half hearty kale sliced into spaghetti-like ribbons. A tiny amount of pancetta lends good flavor to the greens, and wine and tomato make for a familiar sauce that complements both the pasta and the kale. It's a soul-satisfying plate of spaghetti that doesn't overload you on carbs or make you feel like you're watching them.

About the author: Joy Manning is the restaurant critic at Philadelphia Magazine. She blogs at

  • Rated:


  • 2 ounces thick sliced pancetta, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 5 sundried tomatoes, minced
  • 1 medium bunch kale (about 8 ounces) stems removed and sliced thin, and leaves sliced crosswise into thin ribbons, parts separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 8 ounces dried spaghetti
  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated, plus more for serving.


  1. 1.

    In a large sauté pan over medium heat, cook the pancetta until the fat is rendered and the pork is crisp. Add the onions, kale stems, sundried tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and salt to the fat. Cook, stirring often, until the onions and kale begin to soften, about 12 minutes. Add the garlic and kale leaves, and cook, stirring constantly, until the leaves start to wilt and the garlic becomes fragrant, about 90 seconds. Add the white wine and stir, scraping browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato puree, bring to a boil then turn heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

  2. 2.

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and boil for about half the recommended cooking time. Using tongs, move the pasta into the kale and tomato sauce, along with about 1 cup of pasta cooking liquid. Add the cheese and stir to combine. Cover, and simmer until the pasta is finished cooking, about 10 minutes. Top with additional cheese, if desired.