Pasta With Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, Garlicky Kale, and Bacon
I woke up one morning a few weeks ago craving sweet potatoes and kale. It just felt like the perfect fall veggie combo and even though it may seem like all I eat around here in the fall are pumpkiny baked goods, I do in fact still eat vegetables (well, vegetables that aren’t baked up with sugar and butter). We drove out to my favorite organic farm in the area and picked up what we needed and headed home to cook. It’s (relatively) healthy and easy and I loved it so much that I couldn’t wait to make it again.
I already had an idea of what I wanted, but turned to the web for recipe ideas nonetheless and was intrigued by this recipe on Whole Living. I have to admit, I was really kind of thrown off by the tomatoes. Tomatoes and sweet potatoes? It seemed weird to me. Now that I think of it though, I’ve seen stews with both tomatoes and sweet potatoes, but at the time, all I could think was that the tomatoes were going to overpower the earthy fall flavors I was going for. Joseph wasn’t nearly as perturbed and said we should just give it a try. And I’m so glad we did! The flavors work perfectly with each other and the tomatoes infuse a lush juiciness to the pasta while the acidity balances out the starch from the pasta and sweet potatoes.
The pine nuts add a nice crunch and we added another layer of flavor and texture to the dish by adding bacon because bacon makes anything better. You can easily make this without the bacon if you want to make it vegetarian and you can even leave the cheese out if you want to make it vegan.
The first time we made the pasta, I felt like there wasn’t quite enough kale, so when we went to the store to make this dish again, we picked up two bunches of kale. It wasn’t until we got home and were trying to stuff these two huge bunches of kale in the fridge that we realized we had way more than enough. It turns out the farm where we first picked up our kale sells it in smaller batches. But if you ask me, having too much kale around the house is not a problem. Not only do I love kale, but according to Whole Living, kale has more nutritional value per calorie than almost any other food. Sweet potato and kale pizza anyone?
Pasta with Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, Garlicky Kale, and Bacon
Adapted from Whole Living
Need another reason to love this pasta? This makes 8 servings so you can either feed a crowd or have plenty of leftovers to get you through the week. If you want to make this dish vegetarian, skip the bacon and heat 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan before adding the sweet potatoes and throw in a pinch of salt. You can make the pasta vegan by omitting the cheese.
Want to take this dish to a whole other level? Finish it with truffle salt.
- 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped (about 8 to 10 stalks)
- 1 large sweet potato, cubed (about 3 cups, skin on)
- ½ lb bacon, cut into half-inch pieces
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb whole wheat pasta such as fusilli or penne
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
- ½ lemon, juiced
- ½ cup pecorino romano, finely grated, divided
- Red pepper flakes, to taste
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Put a pot of well-salted water on to boil. Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until the fat is rendered and you've got the desired level of crispness. Remove the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels, leaving the fat from the bacon in the pan.
- Add the sweet potatoes to the pan. Cook, uncovered, without stirring, 5 minutes. Toss the potatoes once, cover the skillet with the lid, and cook 5 minutes more.
- Add the garlic, kale, tomatoes, and red pepper flakes. Crush a few tomatoes on the bottom of the skillet so that their juices are released (this will help steam the kale). Cover and cook just until the kale has wilted and turns bright green, 2 to 3 minutes (don't overcook!) Remove from heat. Squeeze the lemon juice over the vegetables.
- Toss the cooked pasta with olive oil. Add sautéed vegetables, about half of the bacon, roughly two-thirds of the cheese, and the toasted pine nuts and toss. Season with sea salt to taste. Serve immediately, topping each dish with the reserved bacon and grated pecorino romano.