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Garlicky Kale and Artichoke Pasta

March 12, 2015

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So it turns out I couldn’t go more than four blog posts before before putting garlic and kale together again. Apparently I have very strong feelings about this (excellent) flavor combination.

(Same thing goes for kale + citrus!)

A few years ago, this dish started out as a barely-changed riff on a smitten kitchen recipe: pasta with garlicky broccoli rabe. All I used to do was swap de-stemmed, torn curly kale leaves for the broccoli rabe and toss them into the boiling pasta water to be drained alongside the pasta. (Then it all gets transferred to a bowl and tossed with garlicky olive oil.) And I used to do this a LOT.

Ingredients for Garlicky Kale and Artichoke Pasta

While that remains one of my all-time favorite weeknight dinners, this version is simpler (one fewer bowl to wash!) and — dare I say it — more delicious, thanks to two secret ingredients: artichokes and anchovies.

Garlicky Kale and Artichoke PastaPin it!

If you want to make this vegetarian and leave out the anchovies, go for it. You won’t know what you’re missing (and I mean that in the sense of: you won’t know you’re missing anything, and it will still taste great!).

Garlicky Kale and Artichoke PastaPin it!

I’ve just gotten excited about adding anchovies to pasta sauces recently. I might hate the smell, look, and feel of the anchovies when I first pull back the lid of the can, but once they’ve been melted into olive oil or butter (like in bagna cauda), they add a distinct and rich umami flavor that would be hard to reproduce with any ingredient substitutes.

Making Garlicky Kale and Artichoke Pasta with Anchovies

I think of pasta sauces with anchovies as having an added layer of decadence, but anchovies might actually be just as healthy as they are decadent, since they are packed with omega-3s. (Although since this just calls for a few, I don’t know how much difference it would actually make in your total omega-3 consumption…)

Kale and Artichoke Pasta with Garlicky Anchovy SaucePin it!

At any rate, this pasta recipe is more about the technique than the amounts: I love that the kale and pasta can be boiled together in the same pot, then drained together in the same colander. (This works better with grown-up kale than with the baby kale pictured here, though… see my notes in the recipe below.)

Ingredients for Garlicky Kale and Artichoke Pasta with Anchovies

I love that the same wide pan I use to dissolve the anchovies into olive oil — and to layer on the flavors with the garlic, artichokes, and chili flakes — can be used to re-warm the cooked pasta and kale, as it soaks up the sauce with the help of a splash of pasta cooking water.

Kale and Artichoke Pasta with Garlicky Anchovy Sauce

And most of all, I love the garlicky, rich taste of this dish, with or without (!) the cheese: I’m addicted.

Making Garlicky Kale and Artichoke Pasta with Anchovies

Truly: we rarely make pasta around here, except occasionally the turkey bolognese recipe from Dinner A Love Story (which I also love), since it’s such a good freezer meal. And I think that’s because I always enjoy pasta — especially gnocchi — but I’m rarely blown away by the amount of flavor it packs, unless it’s sprinkled very, very liberally with melting cheese.

Kale and Artichoke Pasta with Garlicky Anchovy Sauce

This dish is different. I suppose the artichokes have the potential to be a little bland, if they come packed in water (vs. marinated in oil), and if they don’t get enough cooking time in the garlicky olive oil, but like I said, it doesn’t even need the cheese. (Which is no reason to forego it; I’m just saying it wouldn’t be the worst tragedy if you didn’t have any around.)

Garlicky Kale and Artichoke PastaPin it!

Don’t skip the fresh lemon zest at the end, though! It really balances out the dish so that the result is not too strongly garlicky, salty, spicy, rich, or bitter, but a practically perfect combination of all of those flavors instead.

Garlicky Kale and Artichoke PastaPin it!

Print this recipe. (PDF)


Garlicky Kale and Artichoke Pasta
(Originally inspired by Pasta with Garlicky Broccoli Rabe from smitten kitchen.)

(Serves 5-6)

Active and Total time: 30 minutes.

~ ¼ cup olive oil (or scant ⅓ cup olive oil, if not using anchovies)
~ 6 anchovies (and oil they’re packed in)
~ 4 cloves garlic, minced
~ ¼ – ½ tsp. chili flakes, or to taste
~ ½ tsp. sea salt, or to taste
~ 8 oz. (about 1½ cups) artichoke hearts, drained, gently squeezed out, and chopped
~ 12 oz. short pasta (for a 3.5 qt. sauté pan/braiser, or up to 1 lb. with a larger pan)
~ 2 large bunches curly kale leaves, torn/chopped (stems discarded)
____Or: 8 oz. (8-10 cups) baby kale (see steps 3 and 4 below)
~ zest of 1 lemon
~ freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to taste (optional)

How to make it:

1. In a large stockpot, start to bring 3-3.5 quarts/liters of water to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, in a wide sauté pan/braiser (or any pan that’s deeper than a typical frying pan), warm the oil over medium-low heat, then stir in the anchovies until they break apart and dissolve into the oil (2-3 minutes). Increase the heat to medium, then add the garlic, chili flakes, and sea salt, and let sizzle for another minute or two, stirring frequently — you want the garlic to sizzle until fragrant, but not burn. Stir in the chopped artichokes, and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to coat them in the sauce. If this is all finished before the pasta is ready, lower or turn off the heat, but leave it on the burner.

Making Garlicky Kale and Artichoke Pasta with AnchoviesMaking Garlicky Kale and Artichoke Pasta with Anchovies

3. Meanwhile, once the water in the stockpot comes to a boil, add a pinch of salt, then the pasta, and cook pasta only until al dente, according to package directions. If using torn curly kale leaves, start to add them to the pasta pot when the pasta has about 8 minutes of cooking time left — ideally you’ll be able to stir all of the leaves into the pasta water in time for the pasta’s last 5 minutes of cooking.

(If using baby kale leaves, add some of them in the last 1-2 minutes of pasta cooking time, and reserve some to wilt into the finished pasta dish later.)

Making Garlicky Kale and Artichoke Pasta with AnchoviesGarlicky Kale and Artichoke Pasta with Anchovies

4. When the pasta and kale are done cooking, scoop out about 1/4 cup of the pasta water and set aside, then drain the pasta and kale in a colander. Add the cooked pasta and kale to the artichoke sauce in the sauté pan (over medium-low heat), and stir to coat the pasta in the sauce, adding a splash or two of the reserved pasta water to help the pasta absorb the flavors (3-4 minutes). (If using baby kale leaves, during this time you can gradually add and stir reserved leaves into the pasta until they are just wilted.)

5. Sprinkle over freshly grated lemon zest and Parmesan cheese, and serve warm.

Print this recipe! (PDF)

Garlicky Kale and Artichoke PastaPin it!

Related recipe posts:

Garlicky Kale Pizza Kale & Fried Eggs Over Rice Toasted Orzo with Kale, Feta, and Radishes Garlicky Green Soup
Garlicky Kale Pizza Kale & Fried Eggs Over Rice Toasted Orzo with Kale, Feta, and Radishes Garlicky Green Soup
25 Comments leave one →
  1. March 12, 2015 9:16 am


  2. March 12, 2015 10:38 am

    Haha I also love this flavor combination – go (and keep going) with what you love, I say! Looks delicious,

  3. bitsofnice permalink
    March 12, 2015 12:19 pm

    Love artichoke and this dish looks totally delicious!

  4. deliciouscityliving permalink
    March 12, 2015 5:36 pm

    This sounds great, and looks delicious too!

  5. March 13, 2015 7:11 am

    What I wouldn’t give for a big bowl of that right now! Love the flavor combinations and especially the artichokes…YUM!!

  6. March 13, 2015 10:40 am

    Yes! My favorite flavors!

  7. March 14, 2015 2:52 am

    I share your liking of garlic, so this recipe looks delicious. And healthy too, with lots of good nutrients and fibre. Yum!

  8. March 15, 2015 1:57 am

    This looks delicious, I might play about with it to make it GF and veggie, but anything with garlic and artichokes is a hit with us.

    • March 26, 2015 9:54 am

      Thanks! Yes, I used to make it without anchovies all the time, so it could easily be made vegetarian, and with gluten-free pasta for sure. Your garlic oil sounds great; I could use that in so many ways!

  9. das212 permalink
    March 17, 2015 7:34 am

    I am a newcomer to using kale and your recipe look awesome!

    • March 26, 2015 9:56 am

      Thanks! Tossing torn kale leaves into the boiling water with pasta is the PERFECT way (in my opinion) to start liking kale, especially if you’re coating it in lots of flavor (e.g., the garlicky olive oil) after it’s drained.

      I also love sauteing/steaming kale with a little olive oil, garlic and water/broth, then squeezing over fresh lemon/lime + salt & pepper (like the method in this linked recipe, whether or not you include the rice & egg.)

  10. March 18, 2015 4:48 am

    I feel the same about rosemary and chilli.. I have had to reign myself back from posting several meals recently! Like your blog, pop by mine someday

    • March 26, 2015 10:00 am

      Thanks! I’m horrible at keeping up with other blogs (+ responding to comments on my own) these days, ever since my tendinitis/RSI struck over the past summer. But I did just check out your blog and it looks lovely! :)

      Rosemary and chili is a wonderful combination, too! Here’s one of my favorite recipes that combines those: Paprika Gambas al Ajillo.

      • March 27, 2015 8:41 am

        Bless you and thank you I’ll take a look once I’ve got the kids settled later!

  11. March 19, 2015 3:46 pm

    I feel like kale and garlic each deserve their own food group. They are literally in every dish I make!

    • March 26, 2015 10:02 am

      Definitely! I’ve often wondered whether it’s possible to classify every ingredient into one of two (or both) categories: things that go well with garlic or things that go well with chocolate… :)

  12. March 25, 2015 2:05 pm

    just deliicous. way to make something so mouth watering

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