Curly or Plain or Bumpy Like a Dinosaur

After writing about collecting and distributing recipes yesterday I got inspired to start looking for recipes to include in the compilation.  Because I wrote about kale being a hard sell to food pantry clients and I love kale, I decided it should be a main ingredient in my first recipe.  This is a recipe I have used for several years.  I have altered the ingredients slightly to make it more economical.  I mention all the alterations in the notes so that when people make the recipe they can choose to add what their budget will allow.

3 kales

Penne with Kale and White Beans

  • 1 1/2 pounds kale
  • 3 Tbs. oil (use olive oil, if you have it, for more flavor)
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced (use more for stronger flavor)
  • 1/3 C vegetable or chicken stock (can use water)
  • 2 C cooked or 1 16 oz. can white beans
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2-1lb. penne pasta (or any short pasta)

Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a saucepan.

Prepare kale by removing the stems from the leaves.  Save the stems for later use (see note).  Tear the leaves into bite sized pieces.  Place the kale in a colander and rinse.  Leave in colander to drain.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.  Stir in the kale and stock or water and cover the pan.  Cook until the kale is wilted and tender but still bright green, about 7 minutes.  Gently stir in the beans and salt and keep warm over low heat.

Place the pasta into the boiling water and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain the pasta, then carefully stir into the kale mixture.  Serve immediately.


Instead of kale, you can use chard, collard greens or spinach.  The chard and collard greens will take a little longer to cook and the spinach will take less.

You can make vegetable stock with the stems from the kale.  Put them in a saucepan with about 2 cups of water, a pinch of salt and some pepper.  Bring the water to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Remove the kale stems and adjust the seasoning to taste.

You can use any white bean, like cannellini beans, navy beans, or chick peas (garbanzo beans).  If using canned beans, drain and rinse thoroughly.

Any hard Italian cheese, like Parmesan, will give this dish more flavor.  Add 1/4 cup of grated cheese at the end before you serve it.

This dish can be a meal and will serve 4 or can be used as a side dish for meat and will serve more.  If you are making this as a meal, use one pound of pasta or add more beans.  If you are making it as a side dish, you can choose to omit the pasta.

You can use hot pepper flakes or a hot sauce, like Tabasco, to give this dish a little kick.  If using hot pepper flakes, add 1/4 tsp. pepper flakes to the skillet when you put in the garlic.  The hot pepper sauce can be added before serving or placed on the table to allow individuals to season to taste.

kale pasta