Skip to content

Whole-Wheat Pasta with Spicy Kale and Mushroom Sauce

January 8, 2010

It’s been a full week, back here in Massachusetts. Elysabeth, Job, and I have certainly hit the ground running getting back to our jobs, our routines, our pastimes, etc… We fortunately found time to plan our menu, and I decided that I wanted a spicy pasta sauce. We had spent the holiday in the state of Wisconsin, where my wife is from and most of her family lives, and upon returning home I had a craving for something saucy, spicy, and full of vegetables. I’d been tossing the idea around of doing some form of sauce “fra Diavolo“, and this is something along those lines. My eyes are still watering from the heat, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

As usual, feel free to be flexible with certain ingredients to reduce or increase the heat (red pepper), or cut the fat (butter), but I felt this was a good balance of spicy, sweet, savory and tangy with just a hint of creaminess. We used rotini which worked well to catch onto the chunks of the sauce, but any pasta will do; use what you like!

Whole-Wheat Pasta with Spicy Kale and Mushroom Sauce (Serves 3-4):

  • 1/2 lb. (8 oz.) whole wheat pasta, such as rotini or radiatore
  • 1 bunch kale, washed, dried, ends trimmed, roughly chopped
  • 1 lb. white or crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 can (28 oz.) whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. crushed red pepper
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 2 tbsp. dried (or more if fresh) Italian herbs, assorted
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 oz. grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for topping
  • 1 tbsp. chilled butter, cut into small chunks
  • balsamic vinegar
  • sherry (optional)
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


  1. Add 1 tbsp. of the olive oil and the crushed pepper into a large non-stick pot over medium heat. When oil comes to temperature, add onions and stir until soft. Add mushrooms and cook for 10-15 minutes or until mushrooms are reduced in size.
  2. While onions and mushrooms cook, boil a large amount of water in another pot and add a few healthy pinches of salt. Prepare a water bath (large bowl with cold ice water) while water boils. Add kale to boiling water, and stir occasionally for one minute. Remove kale with slotted spoon, and leave water boiling. Put kale directly into ice bath until cooled off. Drain kale in colander and set aside.
  3. When onions and mushrooms are ready, add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly so that garlic doesn’t burn. Crush tomatoes with your hands directly into the pot, and pour in the juices from the can. Add herbs and sugar, and turn the heat up to medium high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
  4. Cook sauce for 15-20 minutes or until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add vinegar, sherry, and kale.
  5. While sauce cooks, cook the pasta according to the box directions, stopping just short of “al dente” to give the noodles time to finish in the sauce. When pasta is complete, add directly to the sauce and stir to combine all ingredients thoroughly, adding pasta water 1 tbsp. at a time if sauce seems too thick. Remove from heat, and gradually add cheese and butter (one piece at a time as they melt), stirring constantly.
  6. Grate additional cheese on top if desired and serve immediately. Enjoy!
One Comment leave one →
  1. mary beth permalink
    January 10, 2010 11:05 pm

    This sounds tasty! I’ve never eaten kale before, but have seen some recipes with it in there…. I may have to give this a try sometime!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: