Weeknight Shorts: Grown Up Mac 'n Cheese

The holidays are wonderful, but they can be downright exhausting, too. If you are looking forward to getting back into a normal routine — even if it's just a little bit — you're not alone. And that can be even nicer when you have a super-quick, delicious recipe or two to make dinner a no-brainer:

Crispy bacon, tender kale, and creamy cheese come together to make a simple pasta dish find its way to your table in about 15 minutes. With just 5 ingredients and such a quick preparation time, it's likely to become a regular menu item at your home. It certainly is at mine! You could swap kale for other greens like spinach or arugula, but I am very fond of how well kale holds up in this recipe and it's my go-to green for cooking purposes. Save the others for your salads.

Of course, you can make this a vegetarian dish by excluding the bacon and sautéing the kale in a little olive oil or butter. I like to double my batch sometimes so I'll have leftovers for lunches during the week, too. Welcome back to reality … the food's amazing.

Creamy Pasta with Bacon and Kale

  • 8 slices thick-cut smoked bacon
  • 2 c. packed kale
  • 1 c. grated cheese - I like using a variety
  • 1/2 c. half & half
  • 16 oz. pasta, prepared - I like radiatore

Cook the bacon until browned and crispy (about 5 minutes). Turn a couple of times during cooking. Remove from pan and chop into small pieces. Keep the frying pan on the heat, but turn the heat down to low (there should still be some bacon fat in there). Place the kale in the bacon pan and let it cook in the hot oil for 1 minute. Turn off the heat.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Put the pasta back in the pan and place over a low heat. Stir in the cheese and cream, then once the cheese has melted, stir in the kale and bacon. Heat through for 1 minute. If the pasta looks a little dry, add in a good splash of the pasta cooking water. Serve immediately.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

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