Tuscan Penne with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Kale

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This simple and delicious pasta is a hearty meal that brings huge flavor and a ton of healthy vegetables to your dinner table.

picture of penne pasta in a bowl with kale, sundried tomatoes, and cheese on a table with forks
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Tuscan Penne With Sun Dried Tomatoes and Kale

A fresh and hearty pasta dish like this Tuscan Penne with sun-dried tomatoes and kale is equally at place on your summer picnic table, or as a hearty vegetarian main dish in fall and winter.

This recipe is so simple and quick to make, it will fast become a staple of your weeknight recipes. 

The great thing about this recipe is that once you’ve mastered the basic idea of making the sauce and cooking the pasta properly, you can use any vegetables you have handy or are in season. 

picture of penne pasta in a bowl with kale, sundried tomatoes, and cheese on a table with forks

How to Make Tuscan Penne with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Kale

To make this recipe, you’ll need:

  • Penne Pasta – Penne is an extruded, dried pasta that was shaped to mimic the nib of a fountain pen. I’m using Penne pasta but pretty much any dried pasta shape will work in this recipe! Even noodles would work. 
  • Olive Oil – Olive oil brings the classic nutty olive flavor of the Mediterranean to this classic pasta dish.
  • Shallot – Shallots are a milder cousin of the onion, in the allium family. Their more subtle flavor pairs well with the sun-dried tomatoes. 
  • Garlic – Another member of the allium family, garlic brings an earthy, deep flavor and spice to this pasta dish. 
  • Butter – Butter has additional rich flavors, and with a higher smoke point, can keep the olive oil from burning. 
  • Lemon – Lemon is a staple in all sorts of dishes, and the fresh and bright acid brings balance to the earthy and rich flavors of the kale and the sun-dried tomatoes. 
  • Red Pepper Flakes – The dish benefits from a bit (or more) of heat, and crushed red pepper flakes are a great way to control how much heat you add to the dish. 
  • Sun-dried Tomatoes – Sun-dried tomatoes spend 4-10 days in the sun to condense the rich and acidic tomato flavor. Depending on the size of the tomatoes, it can take 8-14 kilograms of fresh tomatoes to make a single kilo of sun-dried tomatoes.
  • Kale – Kale is the nutrient-rich cousin of wild cabbage first cultivated in the eastern Mediterranean and Anatolia. It has a strong flavor when consumed raw, but benefits from cooking with fats like butter and olive oil. 
  • Parmesan Cheese – Parmesan cheese is a quintessential Italian cheese, made from cow’s milk and aged for 12 months. Its salty, nutty, and umami flavors are a delicious finish to any pasta. 

Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use the following method: 

  • Step 1 – Cook the Pasta. Cook your pasta in a large pot of heavily salted water until it is al-dente. The Italians say your pasta water should be as salty as the sea. Al Dente is defined as “you cook it just long enough so that it is neither hard nor soft but is firm and slightly chewy.”  
  • Step 2 – Prepare your sauce. In a heavy skillet, saute your shallot and garlic in olive oil. When the shallot is soft, add the butter, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. Cook until the butter has melted. Add ½ cup of the starchy pasta water and reduce on low heat.
  • Step 3 – Combine the pasta and vegetables.  When the pasta water is reduced, add the chopped kale, sundried tomatoes, and penne to the pan. If the sauce is too thin, add ¼ cup of pasta water. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the kale is slightly wilted and the sauce is thick enough to cover the back of a spoon. If the sauce is too thick, add more pasta water. 
  • Step 4 – Garnish and serve. When the pasta is ready and the kale is gently wilted, serve hot with a generous garnish of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. If you like a bit more spice to your pasta, you can add a pinch more of red pepper flakes or a sprinkle of Calabrian chiles. 
picture of penne pasta in a bowl with kale, sundried tomatoes, and cheese on a table with forks

Tips and Tricks to Perfect Tuscan Penne:

Tuscan penne is a fast and easy dish, but these tips and tricks will help make it even easier. 

Salt your pasta water. The joke goes that your pasta doesn’t come pre-salted, so be sure to heavily salt your boiling pasta water.

picture of penne pasta in a bowl with kale, sundried tomatoes, and cheese on a table with forks

FAQs

How long will this dish keep in the refrigerator?

You can keep your leftover Tuscan penne in the fridge in an airtight container for up to three days.

How do I know if the Pasta is al dente?

As a general rule, cook your pasta for two fewer minutes than is recommended on the packaging, and then taste. If it is firm and slightly chewy, then it’s al dente. For this dish, the pasta will continue cooking in the sauce, so it is better to err on the side of more chewy than overcooked.

picture of penne pasta in a bowl with kale, sundried tomatoes, and cheese on a table with forks

What to Serve With Tuscan Penne and Sun Dried Tomato and Kale

Freshly baked bread is always a great side dish to a hearty pasta dish. My easy no-knead bread is a great choice. You can even liven it up with my easy bread dip. For even more vegetables, you could also pair this with green bean almondine.

For a feast, I would pair this vegetarian pasta dish with roast cornish game hens or sheet pan roast pork tenderloin, or roast turkey breast.

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picture of penne pasta in a bowl with kale, sundried tomatoes, and cheese on a table with forks

Tuscan Penne with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Kale

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picture of penne pasta in a bowl with kale, sundried tomatoes, and cheese on a table with forks

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Tuscan Penne with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Kale

Penne with sundried tomatoes and tuscan kale is a light, fresh, and delicious summer recipe you can have ready in less than 25 minutes.
Course Pasta
Cuisine Tuscan Inspired
Keyword pasta salad, penne, sundried tomatoes, tuscan kale, tuscan penne with sundried tomatoes and kale, vegetarian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 494kcal
Author Courtney O’Dell

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces dried penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 2 cups tuscan kale roughly chopped (traditional kale will work)
  • 1 cup grated parmesan

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook the penne to al dente, according to the time on the package directions. Before draining the pasta, reserve 1 cup of starchy pasta water. 
  • Heat a large high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, shallot, and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the shallot is tender. 
  • Next add the butter, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes (if using). Stir until the butter has melted. 
  • Add ½ cup of the starchy pasta water and stir for 1-2 minutes, or until the sauce begins to bubble and thicken. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, kale, and penne. Toss to combine. 
  • If the sauce is too thin, add another ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water. Continue to cook the pasta for 1-2 minutes, or until the kale is just barely wilted and the sauce evenly coats the pasta. Again, if the sauce becomes too dry add the last ¼ cup of pasta water. 
  • Remove the pan from the heat and add the parmesan. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 494kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 52mg | Sodium: 567mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style. Courtney writes the popular creative lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs- a site devoted to delicious everyday recipes, home decor, crafts, DIY inspiration, and photography tips to help make your every day extraordinary.

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