Pasta With Parmesan-Kale Sauce, Bacon & Corn

I’m a BIG fan of any recipe that involves sauteeing an onion in butter and bacon grease. This recipe requires that, so it’s pretty high up on my list of fave dishes at the minute. Seriously, though, this pasta has so much amazing summer flavor, and I’m only sorry I didn’t think of using kale as the base for pasta sauce sooner!

This sauce is like. Really good. The base is kale wilted in bacon fat, which is then blended with parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic and starchy pasta water to create a sauce thats thick, creamy and vibrant all at once. Tossed with some rich cream, fresh corn and salty, smoky bacon, it really is summer in a bowl. If you’re like me and always looking for ways to incorporate more bacon into your diet, give this pasta a try. Here’s how to get it done:

Pasta With Parmesan-Kale Sauce, Bacon & Corn

Course dinner
Cuisine Italian
Keyword bacon, corn, kale, pasta, pesto
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people


  • 6 slices thick cut, smoked streaky bacon, diced this is not the place for cheap bacon!
  • 1 yellow or brown onion finely chopped
  • 2 cobs corn cooked, kernels cut off
  • 600 ml heavy cream this is about 2.5 cups
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 4 cups sliced kale
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water
  • 1 box rigatoni noodles
  • unsalted butter, salt, black pepper


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

  2. While the pasta water boils, cook the diced bacon in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, until crispy. Don't crowd the pan. Work in batches if necessary.

  3. When the bacon is done cooking, remove it from the pan and set it aside. Leave the bacon grease in the hot pan.

  4. To the bacon grease, add a pad of butter (about 1 tbsp). it will begin to melt immediately. Add the onion to the butter and stir to coat the onion in the bacon grease and butter.

  5. Once the onion is softened and has turned slighlty blonde in color, about 7-8 minutes, remove it from the pan and set it aside.

  6. Add the kale to the hot pan and saute until softened, about 7-8 minutes. The pan will very hot by this point, so to avoid burning the kale, bump the heat down a few notches.

    When you add the kale to the pan, also begin cooking your pasta. Rigatoni typically takes about 10 minutes, but just follow the instructions on the box. When it's al dente, strain it and reserve the pasta water.

  7. When the kale is wilted and softened, add it to a blender along with a generous pinch of salt, some black pepper, the 2 garlic cloves, the Parmesan cheese and the juice of a lemon. Add a drizzle of olive oil and begin to blend. As you blend, add the pasta water slowly to bring the sauce together. Blend the sauce until there's not any more large chunks of kale, adding more pasta water or olive oil as needed. I prefer this sauce to be very chunky, and not very sauce, as it will be combined with cream in the next step.

  8. After you've taken the kale from the pan to blend it, add the corn, cream and dried oregano to the hot pan and let it start bubbling away. The kale sauce can hang out in the blender for about 5 minutes while you let the cream and the corn get friendly.

  9. Return the kale-parmesan sauce to the hot pan (still on medium-low heat) and add the onion and bacon. Stir to combine everything together. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or pepper, if needed.

  10. Add the cooked pasta directly to the sauce and stir to combine. if the sauce is too thick to stir thoroughly, add more pasta water or olive oil until you've achieved a consistency you're happy with. I always stir in a few pads of unsalted butter at the end, too, just to make sure everything is super luscious and decadent. Serve hot with pine nuts and shaved parm.

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