In just 20 minutes, and with only one pot to clean, you can have a family-dinner-size pasta dish to feed your friends and enough leftovers for a few more meals. The dried pasta is cooked right in the sauce, a time-saving and delicious trick Italian grandmothers use to infuse the pasta with lots of flavor. Choose a favorite rustic pasta shape that cooks in about eight to 12 minutes (shells, penne, fusilli).

Serves 6 to 8


  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves (or more to taste), chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes or 3 1/2 cups chopped, fresh tomatoes with their juices
  • 1 bunch kale, ribs removed, chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil, chopped, plus a few whole leaves for garnish
  • 1 pound whole grain (brown rice or whole wheat) pasta
  • Salt
  • About 4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)


    Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Drizzle in the olive oil. When it's hot, add the garlic and let it get nice and golden (this color adds lots of flavor); it will only take about 30 seconds. Add the onion and cook until the onion is translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, kale, basil, pasta, salt and 4 cups water. Bring the mixture to a boil while stirring, then reduce the heat to a simmer.

    Cook the whole thing for the amount of time suggested on the pasta package, giving it an energetic stir every few minutes. If it starts to look too dry, add a slosh more water (about 1/2 cup at a time). Once the pasta is al-dente, fold in the Parmesan. Taste! Does it need some red pepper flakes? A pinch of salt? Top with the fresh basil, maybe a shower of Parmesan. Enjoy!

    Al dente means that the pasta still has a little chew to it. However, if you prefer mushy, make it mushy. It's your dinner!

    From The Family Cooks: 100+ Recipes to Get Your Family Craving Food That's Simple, Tasty, and Incredibly Good for You (Rodale) by Laurie David.

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