Pasta with Sautéed Kale and Toasted Bread Crumbs / Photo by Mia / Katie Workman /

There are lots of varieties of kale on the market – play around with any and all of them.  Kale season lasts for a long time, starting about now, and then lasting well into the winter, since its such a hardy green.  And (as we all know well know) it can be used in all kinds of ways, raw, cooked, in salads and soups and stews, and here as a great partner for pasta.

You can use other dark greens, like mustard greens, collards, Swiss chard even chopped broccolini or broccoli rabe.  You can also use spinach, but cook it for only about 4 or 5 minutes, or it will probably get a bit too soft.  

Pasta with Sautéed Kale and Toasted Bread Crumbs / Photo by Mia / Katie Workman /

Having said that—like your greens super tender?  Cook them longer.

And there are plenty of pasta and greens recipe out there to try, but this one is elevated and made super amazing by the topping of Parmesan-infused fried fresh bread crumbs.  And a smidge of anchovies, and red pepper flakes.  

I always rush to mention that if you have people at the table who think they don’t like anchovies, you should conveniently leave out that little nugget of information when describing this dish.  But leave out the information, not the anchovies.

Pasta with Sautéed Kale and Toasted Bread Crumbs / Photo by Mia / Katie Workman /

Other quick and easy pastas:

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Pasta with Sautéed Kale and Toasted Bread Crumbs

It’s the Parmesan-infused pan-fried fresh bread crumbs that make the dish.
Yield: 6 People
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes


  • cup extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic divided
  • 4 oil or salt packed anchovy filets rinsed and minced
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes or more to taste
  • 2 pounds kale thick stems cut out, rinsed well, and roughly chopped
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese divided, plus more for serving


  • Heat half of the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs, season with salt and pepper, and toast, stirring frequently, until the bread crumbs are light golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add half the garlic and cook and stir for one more minute, until you can smell the garlic. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the toasted crumbs to a paper towel lined plate.
  • Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil, and season generously with salt.
  • After you have cooked the bread crumbs, pour out any remaining oil, and wipe out the skillet with paper towels (carefully!). Return the skillet to medium heat, and add the rest of the oil and heat over medium heat. Add the remaining minced garlic, anchovies, red pepper flakes, and stir for a few seconds, then add the kale and 1/4 cup water (if the kale is damp from rinsing it, skip the additional water), partially cover the pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the kale is fairly wilted and tender.
  • While the kale is cooking, cooking the spaghetti in the boiling water according to package directions until al dente. Remove 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.
  • Add the pasta, 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water, and the lemon juice to the pan with the wilted kale, and toss to combine well (use the pot you cooked the pasta in if that works better size-wise). Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. In a small bowl, stir together the toasted breadcrumbs with 1/4 cup of the Parmesan.
  • Transfer the pasta and kale to a serving bowl, or to individual plates, and top with the Parmesan bread crumbs. Pass the extra Parmesan on the side for additional sprinkling, and let people give their servings an extra drizzle of olive oil if they wish.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 573kcal | Carbohydrates: 83g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 326mg | Potassium: 967mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 15201IU | Vitamin C: 182mg | Calcium: 374mg | Iron: 4mg

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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