Kale + White Bean Pasta

A group of first graders I teach recently read More Spaghetti, I Say by Rita Golden Gelman, a hilarious rhyming book in which a monkey named Minnie will eat spaghetti on just about anything (marshmallow fluff (ew!)) as well as ski and skate on it. The book was a hit with the group!

I’m not as crazy about pasta as Minnie, though I do eat it occasionally–and really, pasta should be eaten only in moderation. It’s a processed starch usually made with egg yolks (the part of the egg with all the cholesterol). On top of that, we tend to douse it in cheese, milk, and meat, literally eating close to a day’s worth of calories and fat all in one meal.

This ragout is nothing like that! Simple tomato sauce with garlic, kale, and white beans over the pasta of your choice–and it takes about 20 minutes. I use shells or orecchiette because the beans tend to get lost inside them, and you get a creamy bite of bean nestled inside each bite of pasta. Jarred pasta sauce is fine–I had some homemade on hand.



Kale + White Bean Pasta

serves 6


  • 1 lb pasta
  • 2, 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 bunches kale, washed and patted dry
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 32 oz tomato sauce (tomato basil, garlic; whatever marinara you like)
  • pinch, red pepper flakes
  • olive oil
  • salt + pepper


1. Boil a large pot of water for the pasta. Remove the stems from the kale, stacking the leaves on top of one another. Roll them up like a big cigar, and slice thinly.

2. Meanwhile, head a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Then, add the kale. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the kale is tender, add the tomato sauce and beans and reduce the heat to low, stirring occasionally. Season with pepper, red pepper flakes, and salt, to taste. Heat the sauce through and keep it warm over low heat.


3. When the pasta water boils, salt it, and cook the pasta for about 8 minutes or according to the package directions.

4. Drain the pasta (reserving 1/2 cup pasta water), returning the pasta to the pot. Add the sauce over the pasta and stir together. If the sauce is too thick, you can thin it with some pasta water, a little at a time. Serve immediately.



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