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Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Lots of Kale


You will think this pasta recipe calls for an absurd amount of kale, but it will shrink a ton when cooked.



Kosher salt


large or 4 smaller bunches kale, any type (about 1½ pounds)


garlic cloves


cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Freshly ground black pepper


ounces spaghetti, thick spaghetti, bucatini, or other long strand pasta

Parmesan and crushed red pepper flakes (for serving)

Flaky sea salt


Step 1

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, strip kale leaves from ribs and stems, then tear leaves crosswise into 2"–3" pieces. Cook kale in boiling water until bright green and slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Using tongs, transfer kale to a colander and rinse under cold water, tossing; squeeze out excess liquid from leaves. Keep water at a boil (you’ll use it for the pasta).

Step 2

Whack garlic with the side of a chef’s knife to crush; peel off skins. Heat ¼ cup oil in a large heavy pot over medium. Cook garlic, stirring occasionally, until sizzling, about 3 minutes. Season very generously with black pepper and cook, smashing with a wooden spoon, until cloves break into rough pieces, soften, and look golden. Add kale to pot and cook, stirring often, until darkened in color and very tender, about 8 minutes (garlic will break into even smaller pieces). Season with kosher salt and pepper.

Step 3

Meanwhile, cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until very al dente (2–3 minutes less than package directions).

Step 4

Using tongs, add pasta to kale; splash in about 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Cook, tossing and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce lightly coats pasta, about 2 minutes.

Step 5

Serve pasta topped with Parmesan, red pepper flakes, sea salt, and more black pepper.

Reviews (28)

  • I think this was bland and missing something...



    • 2/8/2021

  • I'm usually reluctant to try a simple recipe because I've found I just cannot make it benissimo like Italians can. As a result, I've developed a bad habit of adding extra seasonings to make it tasty. For this recipe, I added a tiny bit of fish sauce (sorry) and chicken stock as well as fresh French beans and red peppers. On my next attempt, I'd like to sprinkle thinly sliced grilled bacon or salami. I know it changes the whole vibe of the original simplicity but I'm not confident enough to make it tasty with just garlic, salt and pepper. I'd love to know the secret for it. I'm super grateful for this recipe, though, because Kale is one of the ingredients everyone in the family can eat and everyone liked the dish.

    • MIDORI

    • 2/6/2021

  • One of my favorite ways to use kale. To make things even easier, I skip the blanching step: Just sauté the kale in the garlic and oil. Once the pasta and pasta water go in, it’ll wilt down perfectly. Also, for true indulgence, substitute some of the oil with unsalted butter. Because, why not?!

    • JEN

    • NYC, NY

    • 1/25/2021

  • Success with the teens and parents!, We used 24 oz of chopped kale (1.5 lbs) and one pound of spaghetti and it dissapeared (14 yr old and 16 yr old and papi 50, Oma 84) I used more garlic chilli flakes and parmesan oil to keep it flavorful.



    • 1/8/2021

  • I enjoyed reading everyone review. Thanks for all the different suggestions, kale is my favorite veggie. I will try this recipe soon❤️



    • 11/25/2020

  • My Italian family has been preparing this pasta forever. The original recipe is basically oil, garlic and pasta plus seasoning and Parmesan. At some point, my father decided to add fresh, sliced mushrooms when sautéing the garlic. The added flavor exuded by the mushrooms is wonderful and we throw in an entire chopped bunch of Italian parsley towards the end before tossing with the pasta and pasta water. This was always my parents go-to meal when returning from a trip.



    • 11/23/2020

  • I was hesitant to try this recipe because looking at the ingredients I thought it would taste too bland. I had some kale in the refrigerator, so I finally decided to try this recipe. If you cook the kale right, it adds a surprisingly nice flavor to the pasta. I added the chili flakes to the oil first so that the oil would have the flavor. There isn't much sauce but for some reason this recipe works. It's an easy recipe that makes you feel healthy even though you just ate pasta.



    • 8/4/2020

  • This is a great simple recipe that my husband and I love and I think you could use frozen kale- my garden has a ton of kale in it and I was happy to use a lb of fresh but the first step of blanching the kale is what I do before freezing it. I will definitely make with my thawed frozen kale...



    • 7/18/2020

  • This doesn't work with frozen kale :'). My bad.



    • 6/22/2020

  • I was looking for a simple way to use up a bunch of my kale and this hit the spot!


    • DENVER, CO

    • 5/16/2020

  • I'm not a fan of kale and this recipe made it edible,well actually, delicious! Quick and easy.



    • 5/3/2020

  • I am so glad I made this recipe! Added mushrooms and shredded pork tenderloin because we had some extras in the fridge (doing that COVID-fridge-cleanout). Didn't have any parm but the recipe is flavorful and exciting on its own. Had to add a substantial amount of cooking time at the end because our "very al dente" pasta took a long time to finish cooking. --In the end, it. was. amazing. 100% here for Carla. 100% here for this recipe.


    • 4/29/2020

  • This is such a great base recipe! I'm vegan, so I substituted the parm for nutritional yeast and it still worked really nicely. I also used quinoa pasta for some extra protein which turned out great!



    • 3/18/2020

  • This is a really easy weeknight dish that uses things I always have on hand. Amazingly tasty results if you are judicious about salting at every step. I skipped the parmesan and used nutritional yeast instead. I also added a can of chickpeas for protein. Definitely make this the next time you don't feel like going to the grocery store.



    • 1/1/2020

  • This has become a standard weeknight meal for my boyfriend and me. We add extra kale and add chicken sausage for some protein but we’ve had it as the recipe states and it’s amazing. We love Carla’s recipes!



    • 11/12/2019

  • There is absolutely no need to boil AND SQUEEZE the kale! A lot of nutrients will be lost. Kale should be braised in the garlic oil, add pasta water, let it evaporate, then add pasta. AND WHERE IS THE PROTEIN? I 100% agree that this dish needs parmesan or some other cheese shavings...


    • NEW YORK

    • 9/16/2019

  • This recipe was delicious! However, I felt that the sauce didn't really come together until I added about a 1/3 cup of parm and 1.5 tbsp of unsalted butter. In addition, I also added some lemon zest and a few squeezes of lemon juice for some extra zing.


    • DALLAS, TX

    • 8/26/2019

  • Carla, you are a boss. This recipe has quickly become a favorite in my house. I need all things simple and flavorful, and this delivers.



    • 8/25/2019

  • Soooooooooo good! New comfort dish. Only change I made is cooked the kale a little longer than suggested, and because I had no Parm, used goat cheese (and added it with the pasta water). Amazing.



    • 7/25/2019

  • Absolutely lovely! Quick, super tasty and made with staple ingredients. Everyone in the family loved it. Will definitely be making this again, for sure!

    • TRISHA20


    • 6/26/2019

  • Simple and easy way to use up all my leftover kale. Incredibly delicious too! I especially loved how the garlic took on a beautiful golden color then softened and broke down into these deeply roasted tiny nuggets of joy once I added the kale and pasta. 10/10, will make again.



    • 6/18/2019

  • I really liked this! Simple but super yummy, I love the kale cooked this way! Best part was everything in this recipe is stuff I always have around.

    • ELISE.HOFFMAN977015


    • 6/7/2019

  • This recipe was fab. A simple healthy cheap and most importantly delicious winter dinner! Used curly kale rather than cavolo nero, tasted good though probably didn't distribute so well. Loved the subtle heat from the masses of pepper, and a tiny bit of lemon juice and olive oil after plating brought out the bitter kale flavours. New staple comfort dinner, a great twist on a classic.

    • ZOC&GROC

    • LONDON

    • 1/10/2019

  • This is incredible and has quickly become one of my weeknight go-tos. Bucatini is a must. Sometimes I swap the kale for spinach (depending on what I already have) which gives the pasta a milder flavor. Just make sure to cut back on the cooking time as spinach won't take as long to wilt.


    • AUSTIN, TX

    • 11/20/2018

  • Loved it! Great way to use kale that was in my fridge for a few days and not quite crispy enough for salad!


    • CANADA

    • 11/6/2018

  • Loved it! ... Very easy and fast! My family said this was really good ... so I will definitely be making this again.



    • 8/24/2018

  • The garlic basically deep fried rather than melting into the sauce. I tried twice: once I preheated the pan and dropped it in, but it became crispy and browned quickly; the second time I dropped the garlic in a pan before any sizzling and had the burner on low, but it still crisped up rather than softening. Also my kale was pretty clumpy - next time, I'd make sure to separate it thoroughly after squeezing the liquid out.

    • SARAHK33


    • 1/17/2018

  • This is a wonderfully quick, filling, and delicious. Some notes: after stripping the kale, I minced the stems and threw them in with the garlic (a tip I picked up from one of Carla's videos, I believe. Also, I added grated cheese (Fiore Dolce because it came in a smaller size at the grocery store than the Parmesan and was thus cheaper) just after adding the pasta water to make the sauce. Lastly, I omitted the sea salt at the end because it was just salty enough already. I'll definitely be making this again the next time I need dinner in a quick fix.



    • 1/17/2018

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