How to Eat Like Your Favorite Authors

Jonathan Franzen’s Pasta with Kale

We want to make fun of Jonathan Franzen for calling this garlicky pasta “handsome,” “private,” “erotic” and “virtuous,” but we want to eat it so much that we can’t quite bring ourselves to give him any lip.

“This is good food for a working writer: cheap, easy to make, handsome, elegant, nutritionally well-balanced, devoid of saturated fat, private, erotic, virtuous, delicious. I eat it hot the first night and then cold as leftovers for two further dinners and maybe one lunch.

1 lb. fresh kale
1 lb. good dry pasta, ideally Del Verde brand
1 kettle of water with lots of salt
3 medium-size garlic cloves
1/2 cup (or less) extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil water in a kettle. Peel the garlic and chop it up. Wash the kale, tearing it into pieces roughly the size of playing cards (throw away the lower, woodier two-thirds of the stems), and pile it into a pot. Add a little water, if necessary, to make maybe a quarter-inch on the bottom of the pot. Cover with a lid. Sauté the garlic (and some salt) in the olive oil until the garlic just barely begins to brown; remove from heat. Add pasta to the boiling water and stir it a little. Turn on high heat under the kale and steam/boil it, tossing it once or twice, until it’s full wilted; pour off any excess liquid. When the pasta is al dente, drain it and toss it with the kale, garlic, and oil. Some pepper may be ground over it. Grated cheese, however, is a desecration.”

[From The New Great American Writers Cookbook by Dean Faulkner Wells]