Cheesy Pasta With Bacon and Kale (Pasta Alla Gricia) 4.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Dinner in Minutes Jan 21, 2020

In this modern take on an ancient dish, bite-size bits of kale add color and nutrients. This one-pot wonder comes together quickly.

Storage Notes: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reserve a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water to moisten the pasta, if reheating.

4 - 6

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4-6 servings

  • Kosher salt, optional
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, with more for pasta
  • 8 ounces bacon, guanciale or pancetta, cut into 3/4-inch cubes or strips
  • 10 1/2 ounces curly kale, stems removed, chopped or torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup (3 1/2 ounces) finely grated pecorino Romano cheese or Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Bring a large pot filled with 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add salt, if desired. Cook the pasta in the boiling water for 7 minutes, about 4 minutes less than the package instructions indicate.

When the pasta is cooked, drain, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the cooking water. Immediately drizzle the drained pasta with olive oil. Use tongs or a wooden spoon to toss and coat the pasta with the oil.

Dry the pot with a kitchen towel and set it over medium heat. Add the 1 tablespoon of oil and heat until shimmering. Add the bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until the fat is mostly rendered, about 5 minutes. If bits of meat are sticking to the bottom of the pot, add a splash of pasta water and use a wooden spoon to loosen them.

Add the kale and cook, stirring, until it wilts and starts to brown in spots, 3 to 4 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low. Fluff the cooked pasta with a fork and then add it, the cheese and 1 cup of the reserved pasta water to the pot. Stir vigorously until the cheese melts and transforms into a creamy sauce that coats the pasta, 4 to 5 minutes. If the sauce is too thick or dry, add more pasta water, 2 tablespoons at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency.

Taste and season with pepper, as desired.

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Recipe Source

Recipe adapted from “Keeping It Simple: Easy Weeknight One-Pot Recipes,” by Yasmin Fahr (Hardie Grant Books, 2019).

Tested by Ann Maloney.

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