serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a first course
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves (can substitute scapes)
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb and variety kale
1/2 lb rigatoni, pappardelle, or any noodle
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt until it tastes like the sea.
While the water is coming to a boil, put the garlic and 1/4 cup olive oil into a small heavy pot or skillet over medium heat and cook until the garlic begins to sizzle. Reduce the heat to low and gently cook until the garlic is light and golden, soft, and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Pour the oil and garlic into a bowl so it can cool quickly.
When the water is boiling, add the kale leaves and boil until they are tender but not mushy or overcooked, about 5 minutes. Pull them out with tongs or a slotted spoon and transfer to a blender. It's fine if they are still wet.
Add the pasta to the still-boiling water and cook until al dente according to the package directions. With a ladle or a measuring cup, scoop out about a cup of the pasta water, then drain the noodles.
Process the kale in the blender with the oil and garlic, adding just a bit of the pasta water to help the process along and to make a nice thick puree. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the drained pasta back to the pot and pour in the kale puree. Add half the Parmigiano and toss well. Add a touch more pasta water and toss until the pasta noodles are well coated with a bright green, creamy-textured sauce. Serve right away with a big drizzle of olive oil and the rest of the cheese.