Pasta with Greens and Tomatoes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound collard greens or kale, (about 12 cups), stripped from thick stems, washed, dried and coarsely chopped (1/2-inch pieces) OR 1 pound swiss chard, coarsely chopped
  • 2 ounces sliced pancetta, or bacon, finely diced (3/4 cup), optional
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes, (not drained)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 8 ounces medium pasta shells, (3 cups)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

PREPARATION

  1. Bring 2 cups lightly salted water to a boil in a large wide pan. Add collards and cook until tender, 10-12 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and press out excess moisture. Set aside.
  2. Put a large pot of lightly salted water on to boil for cooking pasta.
  3. Cook pancetta or bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until golden. Drain, discard fat.
  4. Add oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, for 30 to 60 seconds. Add the pancetta (or bacon), tomatoes and water; bring to a simmer, mashing the tomatoes with a potato masher or the side of a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until thickened, about 20 minutes.
  5. About 10 minutes before the sauce is ready, cook pasta in the boiling water, stirring often, until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta.
  6. Add the pasta, collards and reserved pasta-cooking water to the tomato sauce. Heat, stirring, until the pasta has absorbed some of the flavors, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon into pasta bowls, sprinkle with cheese and serve.

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