Pasta with bacon, kale and Fontina.

I’ve long been a fan of Swiss chard; it grows beautifully (and easily) in my small backyard garden. I love its bright, almost citrus-y flavor and the way it pairs so beautifully with non-leafy ingredients like sausage and cheese.

And then there’s chard’s super-trendy cousin, kale. I was a little late to the kale party last year, but eventually I caught on. What sealed my kale fate was this recipe from Edible Ohio Valley magazine. Like chard, kale plays well with pork (bacon, in this case) and with cheese. How can you not like kale?

(See here for more kale recipes from my friends at Edible Ohio Valley, including a remarkable take on the summer BLT: the BAK, which is bacon, apple and kale.)

pasta with kale, bacon and fontina

(serves 4; reprinted with permission from Edible Ohio Valley)

4 servings of dried tagliatelle, pappardelle, fettuccine or other wide pasta
4 oz. pancetta or bacon, diced small
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 lb. kale, stems removed, leaves cut into thin, bite-sized strips
2 cups chicken stock
5 oz. Fontina cheese, cut into small dice

Prepare the pasta in well-salted water according to package directions. Meanwhile, sauté the bacon or pancetta until just crisp; remove from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towel to drain. Add half the kale to the skillet, stirring to coat with the bacon drippings (add a bit of olive oil if you need to); add the garlic. Cook for a minute or two until the kale wilts, then add the rest of the kale and the chicken stock. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, until the kale is tender. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking water. Return pasta to its cooking pot, then add the diced Fontina and stir to melt; add the kale and the bacon/pancetta and stir to combine, adding some reserved pasta cooking water to make a sauce as needed.

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