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From the AICR Test Kitchen
Week of November 12, 2012
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Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744

Pasta Shells with Garlicky Kale

from the
American Institute for Cancer Research

The concept of pairing pasta and greens goes back centuries to Italian country fare. Meat was expensive and greens were readily available from the garden, so it was a natural combination. Fortunately this concept works well for Americans to increase the amount of plant-based foods on our plates.

Kale’s rich dark green color enhances the presentation and these baby greens add tender texture. Kale was one of the most widely eaten green vegetables until the Middle Ages when cabbage became more popular. Although they look different, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli belong to the family of cruciferous vegetables. These powerhouse foods provide many key nutrients, including vitamins K and C and fiber.

The shells combine nicely with the greens to produce a distinctly Mediterranean flavor. Small shells like whole-wheat conchigliette work well for the recipe. The garlic infuses the dish with an earthy flavor. Adding a dash of red pepper provides a hint of zest.

Serve with a salad studded with beans for protein: Toss together lettuce, cucumbers, garbanzos and bell peppers with a simple vinaigrette dressing.

Pasta Shells with Garlicky Kale

Pasta Shells with Garlicky Kale

  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 10-12 oz. (10-12 cups, loosely packed) pre-washed baby kale, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
  • 8 oz. small whole-wheat pasta shells, cooked to package directions

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Sauté garlic with red pepper about 2 minutes.

Stir in about half the greens, broth, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium-high, cover, and cook until greens wilt, about 3 minutes. Stir in remaining greens, cover and cook an additional 12 minutes or until greens are tender. Stir occasionally.

Place cooked, drained pasta in saucepan. Add greens mixture and gently toss until well combined.

Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 1½ cups.

Per serving: 302 calories, 6 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 56 g carbohydrate,
13 g protein, 7 g dietary fiber, 264 mg sodium.


The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $100 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

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