This homey pasta dish uses pancetta (Italian bacon) in the tomato sauce, but for vegetarians it can be easily omitted. The collards and Parmesan elevate the calcium count to rival a cup of milk.

Marie Simmons
Source: EatingWell Magazine, Winter 2003


Recipe Summary

50 mins


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Bring 2 cups lightly salted water to a boil in a large wide pan. Add collards and cook until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and press out excess moisture. Set aside.

  • Put a large pot of lightly salted water on to boil for cooking pasta.

  • Cook pancetta (or bacon) in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until golden, 5 minutes. Drain; discard fat.

  • Add oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, for 30 to 60 seconds. Add the pancetta (or bacon), tomatoes and water; bring to a simmer, mashing the tomatoes with a potato masher or the side of a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until thickened, about 20 minutes.

  • About 10 minutes before the sauce is ready, cook pasta in the boiling water, stirring often, until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta.

  • Add the pasta, collards and reserved pasta-cooking water to the tomato sauce. Heat, stirring, until the pasta has absorbed some of the flavors, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon into pasta bowls, sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Nutrition Facts

384 calories; protein 16.6g 33% DV; carbohydrates 61g 20% DV; exchange other carbs 4; dietary fiber 9.2g 37% DV; sugars 8.6g; fat 8.9g 14% DV; saturated fat 2.8g 14% DV; cholesterol 13.8mg 5% DV; vitamin a iu 6637.7IU 133% DV; vitamin c 30.4mg 51% DV; folate 182.7mcg 46% DV; calcium 242.5mg 24% DV; iron 5.1mg 28% DV; magnesium 49.1mg 18% DV; potassium 682.9mg 19% DV; sodium 913.3mg 37% DV; thiamin 0.4mg 45% DV.

Reviews (4)

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4 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 0
  • 4 star values: 4
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 4 stars
Delicious AND Healthy!! Printed this recipe out and it hung around for months before I tried it....I just couldn't wrap my head around collards tomato sauce and pasta. Finally fixed it and even my greens-a-phobe husband thought it was very good. Haven't tried it with bacon and we definitely use more parmesan which makes it even yummier! Pros: Easy inexpensive (even with the pancetta); healthy; delicious Cons: chopping collards is a bit of a pain (and food processor didn't do the job) Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Very Tasty Dish Although the greens and tomatoes were good it didn't mix very well with the pasta. You really need a more creamy sauce for pasta shells so that the cream gets into and around the shells. I think a linquine pasta would work better. I also like my tomatoes cooked longer then the suggested 20 minutes so instead of parboiling the greens I just added the uncooked greens with my tomato mixture and cooked it down until the greens were tender. I had to keep adding a little chicken broth and a little sugar to take the bitterness out of the tomatoes and greens but it turned out quite well. Pros: The dish had a great flavor Cons: The pasta choice was not good Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Very healthy and quite tasty but there definitely are some cons to this dish I decided to give this dish a 4 out of 5 stars mostly because of how healthy the dish is and how tasty it is for using a somewhat bitter green like collard greens. The bacon and tomatoes go so well together and don't forget the cheese it really adds to it! Great use for those bitter collard greens. The downsides: it takes MUCH longer than the estimated time..prepping a pound collard greens takes a while enough to where negative point of such a time taking dish almost out weighs the quality of the dish produced. The taste just isn't worth the amount of time. Also you'd need a pretty freaking large skillet to fit everything they suggest I have a very large skillet and everything just barely fit. Either use your massive skillet or make this in a large pot. This is a great dish overall just annoying technical notes like the actual time of the dish and the actual utensils needed. Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Simple and Tasty I made this recipe as written only omitting the pancetta. My husband and I both enjoyed it thoroughly. I found it very simple to make and did not have an issue with the sauce not getting into the shells enough as another reviewer mentioned. I did simmer the tomatoes a bit longer than 20 minutes stirring them periodically and using a potato masher to mash them as I went. I feel as though this created a sauce of ideal consistency for the shells and recipe. Also in response to the reviewer who disliked the time required to prep the collards: they can be prepped quite quickly by stemming them as you would with spinach stacking all of the stemmed leaves on top of each other and then rolling like a cigar. Cut the collards once lengthwise and then slice along the cigar in roughly 1 pieces. I used this method to prep the collards for this recipe and the pieces were of ideal size. Pros: Healthy easy Read More