One-Pot Pasta alla Gricia with Kale

published Jan 24, 2020
Pasta alla Gricia with Kale

This one-pot, veggie-packed riff on classic Pasta alla Gricia will quickly become part of your weeknight dinner rotation.


Prep10 minutes

Cook30 minutes

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Credit: Patricia Niven

On a recent trip to Rome, I assigned myself the task of tasting the four traditional Roman pastas: Bucatini all’Amatriciana, Spaghetti Carbonara, Cacio e Pepe, and Pasta Alla Gricia. I was surprised by how simple, but incredibly tasty each of these dishes were when done well. What also surprised me was how quickly Pasta alla Gricia became my favorite.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Cacio e Pepe, which is arguably the most popular of the four. But Pasta alla Gricia, made with guanciale (cured pork jowl), Pecorino Romano and black pepper, is just as easy to make and has the most delicious intensely porky flavor. When I got home, I created this one-pot, veggie-packed riff on the classic, which I find myself making on repeat.

Every step of this recipe is designed to dirty fewer dishes and save you time. You’ll start by cooking the pasta in salted boiling water until it’s a couple of minutes shy of al dente. It should feel too tough to bite through at this point, but it will finish cooking at the end of the recipe.

While the pasta is draining, you’ll use the same pot to cook the guanciale (feel free to swap in pancetta or even bacon), until it’s crispy and the fat renders into the pan, adding tons of flavor to the final dish. Add the kale and cook until it begins to wilt, then grab a pair of tongs and a wooden spoon. Add the pasta, grated cheese, and pasta water to the pot and use those arm muscles to stir vigorously to create a thick, creamy and delicious sauce, until all the noodles are coated.

If the pasta looks dry to you at any point, add warm water one tablespoon at a time (or more pasta water if you have it) until it’s just right. Keep in mind that the sauce will tighten quickly once it’s off the heat, so it’s okay if it looks a little extra saucy at first.

Pasta alla Gricia with Kale

This one-pot, veggie-packed riff on classic Pasta alla Gricia will quickly become part of your weeknight dinner rotation.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • Kosher salt

  • 8 ounces

    guanciale or pancetta

  • 10 1/2 ounces

    curly or flat-leaf kale (about 1 1/2 bunches)

  • 5 ounces

    pecorino romano or Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup), plus more for serving

  • 1 pound

    dried bucatini or spaghetti

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil, plus more for the pasta

  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Bring a large pot or Dutch oven of heavily salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, cut 8 ounces guanciale or pancetta into 3/4-inch cubes or strips. Meanwhile, remove strip the leaves from the stems of 10 1/2 ounces kale. Stack the leaves and cut into 1-inch thick ribbons (about 3 cups). Finely grate 5 ounces pecorino romano or Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup), plus more for serving.

  2. Add 1 pound dried bucatini or spaghetti pasta to the boiling water. Cook for 4 minutes less than the package instructions, about 7 minutes. The pasta should be a little too tough to bite through. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, then drain the pasta into a colander. Immediately drizzle with a little olive oil and use tongs or wooden spoon to toss the noodles with the oil so they don’t stick together.

  3. Wipe out the pot with a paper towel. Place back over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the guanciale, and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the fat is rendered and guanciale is browned, about 5 minutes. Add the kale, season with black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale wilts and starts to brown in spots, 3 to 4 minutes.

  4. Reduce the heat to low. Add the pasta, reserved pasta water, and cheese. Cook, stirring vigorously, until the pasta is coated with a cheesy sauce that clings to the pasta, 2 to 3 minutes. If the pasta seems dry at any point, then add in 1 tablespoon of warm water at a time. Season generously with more black pepper and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Ingredient notes: Parmesan is a little easier to emulsify than Pecorino. Guanciale is a bit pricier than pancetta, which might be easier to find, so either will taste great in this recipe. You could even use bacon in a pinch.

Reprinted with permission from Keeping It Simple by Yasmin Fahr, Hardie Grant Books, 2020.