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Penne with kale, bacon and sun dried tomatoes

When I told Adam what we were having for dinner tonight, he looked well unimpressed. The list of ingredients may not sound that inspiring, but it’s all in the detail; lots of garlic, handfuls of Parmesan, liberal seasoning and creating an emulsion (a light sauce) from adding a splash of pasta cooking water.

It was properly yummy. I love this dish! It is going on my mental list of pasta dishes that we return to again and again. The kids really enjoyed it – OK, so Artie left the kale, but got stuck into the rest. Bea wolfed it down, loving a bit of greenery as she does.

Incidentally, I used brown rice pasta, which I am now in love with. The brand here is Doves Farm. I have tried one other health food brand before and it was way too soft, falling apart in fact. But this one in the bees’ knee, seriously I challenge anyone at the table to know it’s different. This is gluten free, but more importantly, seeing as no on in our family has an actual gluten intolerance, it’s more nutritious than normal pasta. So, I don’t mind if Artie does just pick out the pasta covered in Parmesan, because he’s getting a decent meal.

If you are a veggie, then how about replacing the bacon with capers? If you eat fish, why not give a few anchovies a whirl. What you are looking for is a salty, pungent hit to flavour the kale and compliment the sun dried toms.

Super quick, super healthy, super easy – new fave dinner, I reckon.

Serves: 2 adults, 2 kids 
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 12 minutes

250g brown rice penne pasta
1 tablespoon of olive oil
3 or 4 rashers of bacon, any type, chopped into lardons
5 cloves garlic, crushed
160g sun-dried tomatoes
2 handfuls of kale
100g approx Parmesan, plus lots more for serving
Half a lemon
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper


  1. Set a large pan filled with water on to boil. Add a little salt. When boiling tip in pasta and cook until barely al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, once the pan of water is boiling, start your sauce.
  3. Heat a frying pan with some oil in. Add the bacon and brown for a few minutes.
  4. Add the garlic. Let it sizzle but not colour for a few more mins.
  5. Tip in the sun dried tomatoes. I drained most of the oil off but left a bit.
  6. Now the kale, toss in the oil and mix well. Pop the lid on for a minute to let it wilt.
  7. Reserve a mugful of pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta – keep an eye on it as brown rice pasta overcooks quickly – and toss it all into the frying pan. Mix well, covering the pasta in the mixture, adding salt and pepper, juice of half a lemon, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a handful of parmesan and a splash (about half a small mugful) into the mix to create a light sauce. Taste, adjust seasoning if required.


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