Kale + Caramelized Onion Rigatoni

Derek and I celebrate Valentine’s Day on two days: February 14 and the Saturday before February 14.

In Louisville there are always a ton of events the weekend before that we attend with some of our Best Friends. If you are looking for something to do, check out the bulletin board at your local coffee shop or the events portion of Facebook!

Because restaurants are always packed on both of these days, we usually host a dinner party before the evening’s event.


Valentine’s Day is a romantic holiday and so I want to make romantic food.

I think pasta is romantic and it goes well with wine and sweets, which are also romantic.

I decided to do a pared down cheese board as a starter. I added cracked black pepper to the creamy ricotta. For a fresh and fruity element I added cherry jam! I chose a delicate and mild cracker for the texture.


I put it in small bowls on a cutting board that I was given for my birthday.

It has a heart engraved on it so it was PERFECT!


I was having trouble deciding between red wine and champagne as the beverage for the evening...

So I combined the two elements to save an ingredient!

I will warn you that sparkling red wine can be a bit tricky to find. If it proves to be difficult, just go with a sparkling rosé!

Tiramisu is the perfect romantic dessert. It is creamy and has chocolate. You can find it in your freezer section, but I found mine at Lotsa Pasta, a specialty market in my area.

When you only have ten ingredients, you have to buy a few things pre-made, and because there are so few items, it feels okay to splurge on a few of them.


I had all the ingredients for the pasta already—which dictated the ingredients, really—but feel free to replace the tempeh with chicken or sausage, or the kale with spinach or artichokes. It’s really about what you think tastes best.

Pasta is a time-sensitive food. So if you want to make entertaining easier, you can prep and precook many of the ingredients so that when you are ready to eat you just have to reheat while the noodles cook!

This Kale + Caramelized Onion Rigatoni recipe serves six people; here are the ten ingredients I used:

1. rigatoni

2. onions

3. kale

4. tempeh

5. canned tomatoes

6. ricotta cheese

7. crackers

8. cherry jam

9. pre-made tiramisu

10. sparkling red wine

vegetable oil, salt + pepper ("free" ingredients)


Tips for prepping ahead…


Julienne and caramelize the onions.

They can even be prepared the day before!


Tempeh needs to be crumbled and browned in oil to create a crispy texture.

Make sure to remove the stems from the kale.


Add them to the tempeh first because they take longer to cook than the leaves.


Add the leaves and add salt to maintain the vibrant green color.

This mixture can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator.


When your guests arrive, they can snack on the cheese and sip the sparkling wine—while you cook the pasta and reheat the ingredients.

But don’t stress if you don’t get anything cooked ahead of time! The recipe below starts with raw ingredients and only takes 30 minutes!


The end-result is a comforting pasta dish packed full of protein and veggies.

It is flavorful, interesting, and light enough that it won’t put you to sleep. You might also notice the lack of garlic...

This just leaves the door open to an evening filled with kisses...

It is Valentine’s Day after all.

Kale + Caramelied Onion Rigatoni

servings: 6


  • 16 ounces rigatoni pasta
  • 4 sweet onions, julienned
  • 6 to 7 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
  • 8 ounces tempeh, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed + chopped, leaves chopped (reserve a handful of the chopped stems for a garnish)
  • One 14-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package direc-tions until al dente. Drain and set aside, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
  2. While the pasta cooks, add the onions and 2 tablespoons of the oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle with salt and cook until the onions are tender and browned—about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the onions from the pan and set aside.
  3. Add 2 more tablespoons of oil to the skillet and heat. Add the tempeh, 1 teaspoon of the pepper, and ½ teaspoon of salt, and cook until browned—about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the kale stems and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. If the skillet looks dry, add another tablespoon of the oil, then add the kale leaves. Sprinkle the leaves with ¼ teaspoon of the salt and cook until they wilt—about 2 minutes more.
  4. Add the canned tomatoes to the kale mixture and deglaze the bottom of the pan, cooking 1 to 2 minutes. Then, add the pasta to the pot and toss to combine. Add ½ cup of the reserved pasta cooking water to make a pan sauce, letting it cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then adding the remaining cooking water. Season with salt and pepper and add the remaining oil if the pasta looks dry. Then cook until shiny and thick—about 2 minutes more.
  5. Garnish with the reserved kale stems and serve immediately!
: @bluebirdandblackberries

: @bluebirdandblackberries

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