Spaghetti Recipe with Garlicky, Lemony, Creamy Kale

There are a lot of adjectives in the title of this spaghetti recipe. I know it. I almost added “briny,” too — but it was just too much. Don't miss this comforting, flavorful bowl of pasta on a cold winter's night.


Kale is sweetest in the wintertime after a frost, so this comforting spaghetti recipe makes a great midwinter meal.

An adjective-forward spaghetti recipe

There are a lot of adjectives in the title of this spaghetti recipe. I know it. I almost added “briny,” too — but it was just too much. I’m not sorry, though maybe I should be. It’s just that I need you to know there’s even more going on in this dish than meets the eye. 

I hadn’t even planned on posting what was supposed to be a run-of-the-mill Sunday dinner. But then we tasted it, and it was more game changer than mill runner. So. Spaghetti with Garlicky, Lemony, Creamy Kale. (And a potato and some olives or capers.) I just thought you should know. 

Spaghetti with Garlicky, Lemony, Creamy Kale 780 | Umami Girl

Oversharing mode

Oh hey again. While you were looking at that picture, I was thinking about how to take advantage of the fact that we’re already in oversharing mode right now. Fun question, right? Not for, like, all the time, but once in a while.

Let's see:

  • I just watched this and ended up weeping tears of joy and shouting ever so slightly at my laptop screen. Later, when I vote in the NJ primary, my eyes will well up again. Because democracy never gets old, even when it gets medium-shitty.
  • Odds are reasonably good I’ll be topping the twice-reheated dregs of this spaghetti with leftover, not-even-homemade seven layer dip and calling it lunch. Although getting that out of my system and onto the screen may have been enough. [Update: Happened.]
  • What else? I’ve never seen the Grand Canyon. [Update: yes I have!]

Now it’s your turn. Just kidding, I know no one comments on blogs anymore. You get a free pass to just do you. And maybe make this for dinner, and we’ll call it even.

Spaghetti Recipe with Garlicky, Lemony, Creamy Kale

I didn't set out to post about this last-minute Sunday dinner, but we liked it so much that I couldn't resist. It's a tad on the indulgent side for a kale recipe, but I'm not the least bit sorry.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Serves 6


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 large yukon gold potato, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup capers or chopped olives
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 bunches (1 to 1 1/2 pounds) Lacinato or green curly kale
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for serving
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Set a spaghetti pot half filled with well-salted water on the stove to boil.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a deep 12-inch frying pan that has a lid (which you'll use later). Add the garlic, shallot and potato along with a good sprinkle of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is golden brown in spots but without a hint of burning.
  3. Add the olives or capers and the cream. Adjust heat so the cream is bubbling gently, pop a lid on it, and simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. While the potatoes cook, boil the spaghetti until al dente and drain, reserving 1/4 cup starchy cooking liquid.
  5. Meanwhile, strip the kale leaves from their stems and tear the leaves into large bite-sized pieces.When potatoes are just tender, heap kale leaves into pan, pour over the reserved pasta cooking water, and top with a lid. Cook until kale is wilted, tender, and reduced in volume by at least half, about 5 minutes depending on type, and stir to coat with sauce.
  6. Add the pasta to the frying pan, sprinkle with the lemon juice, pecorino and salt and pepper to taste, and toss everything together. Serve immediately, with more cheese to pass at the table.


I love using my Le Creuset enameled cast iron braiser for recipes like this because it's lidded and the enamel makes it non-stick enough for government work without being finicky. There are less-expensive versions out there if the price tag throws you (and I bought a less-loved color at deep discount once upon a time, so that's an option, too). Not to mention that any opportunity to amortize this giant purchase that I made for a skillet cookie is a good opportunity. It's the same way I treat my law degree.

Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving:

Calories:: 539 Total Fat:: 19g Carbohydrates:: 76.2g Fiber:: 7.6g Protein:: 19.5g