Play Hard

Kale and Olive Oil Pasta

Kale, a comfort food? I thought it was a health food? Don’t be fooled by the title!

Written by High Life North
Published 11.12.2020

Kale, a comfort food? I thought it was a health food? Don’t be fooled by the title!

In this dish, the kale is slow-cooked with chilli, fennel seeds and anchovies to create an intensely savoury sauce, finished with cream for extra richness. Kale is in season now, and this dish really makes a celebration of it.

Serves two


  • 50ml olive oil
  • 4 anchovies from a tin
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 white onion
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes
  • ¼ tsp fennel seeds
  • 150g kale -I like the Italian cavelo nero for its deep forest green colour, but ordinary curly kale will work just as well
  • 100ml white wine
  • 50ml double cream
  • 200g pasta
  • Parmesan to serve
  1. Peel the onion and slice it as thinly as you can into half-moons. Peel the garlic and slice them into long thin slithers.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a low heat and add the onion, along with the anchovies, the chilli flakes and fennel seeds. Pop the lid on the onions and allow them to sweat for around 20 minutes. Stir the pan every 4-5 minutes to stop them sticking. You want them to turn golden and sticky looking. Once this is beginning to happen, add the garlic and continue to cook for another 10 minutes until the onions are really golden and sticky.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the kale. Strip the leaves off their tough stalks and chop it into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
  4. Once the onions are ready, add the chopped kale, along with 100ml white wine. Stir to coat the kale in the onion mixture, then pop the lid on and leave the kale to simmer for 20 minutes over a low heat, stirring regularly. The steam from the kale and the liquid we added should cook the kale right down; we don’t want any bite left in this kale. It should be completely soft. Cook further if necessary. If your pan gets too dry, add some water.
  5. While the kale braises, place a pan of salted water on to boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta for 10-12 minutes, according to the packet instructions.
  6. Once the pasta is ready, turn your attention back to the sauce. Your kale should now be soft and tender. Increase the heat under slightly and pour in the cream. Stir thoroughly and allow the cream to bubble rapidly before tipping in the drained pasta, along with a little pasta water. Toss the shapes through the sauce until evenly coated.
  7. Pour into a serving bowl and scatter with parmesan and a little extra olive oil.
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