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Umami Noodles With Garlic, Kale & Bacon

These umami noodles are an addictive fusion of Italian and Asian flavors that will leave you wanting more after every bite.

This is the kind of pasta dish that you’ll want to skip straight to tomorrow’s lunch (even if it’s Monday) because your tastebuds are now running the show.

This dish is great for weeknight dinners or when you don’t have much time but want something comforting and filling. While you can leave out the kale and bacon, they’re added for a more substantial meal. This way you don’t have to add an extra side of vegetables and protein.

You can kick it up a notch by making homemade vegan oyster sauce, but store-bought is fine too. It’ll be a hit either way!

Ingredients

  • Spaghetti noodles – long noodles are ideal for this dish because the sauce coats the noodles beautifully.
  • Butter – dairy-free or regular unsalted. For dairy-free, I love Miyoko’s Creamery brand.
  • Garlic cloves.
  • Red pepper flakes (optional) – for a hint of spice.
  • Vegan oyster sauce.
  • Soy sauce or tamari.
  • Dino kale (also called lacinato).
  • Cooked bacon – make it ahead for an even easier dish.

Make It Your Way: Substitutions & Variations

Please remember that recipes are just a starting point.

How can you make these umami noodles using what you already have? Here are some ideas

  • Gluten-free? – use your favorite gluten-free spaghetti noodles and make sure to use tamari soy sauce.
  • Soy-free? – sub coconut aminos and add salt since it’s sweeter than soy sauce and not nearly as salty. Also, make vegan oyster sauce using the coconut aminos option.
  • Don’t like spicy? – omit the red pepper flakes.
  • No kale? – use fresh spinach, chard, or arugula instead.
  • Plant-based? – leave out the bacon, use vegan oyster sauce, and sub a plant protein like edamame.

Helpful Tips

How to avoid overcooked noodles

Only cook your noodles until they’re al-dente (aka still have some chewiness). This is crucial because the noodles finish cooking in the pan with the sauce. If you’re using gluten-free noodles this is even more important so they don’t turn to complete mush in the pan.

Reserve some pasta water

If for any reason you need to thicken up your sauce a little, adding cooked pasta water is key. This is because the starch from the pasta gets released into the water as it cooks. So reserve some just in case you need it, adding a tablespoon at a time as needed to thicken.

More Noodles You’ll Love

Marion’s Kitchen inspired this recipe.

Umami Noodles With Garlic, Kale, and Bacon

5 from 12 votes
A bowl of umami pasta noodles with kale, garlic, and bacon pieces.
These umami noodles with garlic, kale, and bacon are quick, flavor-packed, and leave you wanting more. This dish is a crowd-pleaser and is very adaptable: dairy-free and gluten-free, with a vegan option.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Serving Size 4

Ingredients
 

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 5 tablespoons butter dairy-free or regular unsalted
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½-¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 5 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 5 tablespoons homemade vegan oyster sauce or store-bought
  • 1 head dino kale, tough stems removed and chopped small roughly 5 cups
  • 6 pieces cooked bacon, diced or cut small

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al-dente according to the package directions.
  • Cook the kale in a large skillet over medium heat with a little oil. Stir continuously for about 2-3 minutes, until it has reduced in size, has softened, and is a vibrant green color. Remove from the skillet and set aside covered.
  • In the same skillet, add the butter until melted before adding in the diced garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir frequently so the garlic doesn't burn and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in the oyster sauce and low-sodium soy sauce or tamari. Stir together until the sauce is combined.
  • Reserve a few tablespoons of the pasta water and add the drained noodles to the skillet with the sauce over medium-low to medium heat. Using tongs, scoop the pasta up and glide it through the sauce until all the noodles are well-coated and glossy. Add the cooked kale to the noodles and mix them in.
  • Serve the noodles topped with crispy pieces of chopped bacon.

Notes

Substitutions:
Gluten-free? – use your favorite gluten-free spaghetti noodles and make sure to use tamari soy sauce.
Soy-free? – sub coconut aminos and add salt since it’s sweeter than soy sauce and not nearly as salty. Also make vegan oyster sauce using the coconut aminos option.
Don’t like spicy? – omit the red pepper flakes.
No kale? – use fresh spinach, chard, or arugula instead.
Plant-based? – leave out the bacon, use vegan oyster sauce, and sub a plant protein like edamame.

2 Comments

  1. This dish is so good! Thank you for posting this Lindsey, I’ve been craving it ever since you made it for us in Vermont! xoxo

  2. Deb Louttit says:

    5 stars
    So good, Lindsey! Thanks so much! deb

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