SERVES 4 Some of the best pasta dishes are the easiest. This soul-satisfying dish proves the point with dried pasta flavored by the water used to cook the bitter greens and the deep deliciousness and richness of pancetta and Pecorino Romano.
3⁄4 pound bitter greens, such as curly endive, dandelion, or escarole, sliced into 1⁄2-inch ribbons
1 (12-ounce) box gluten-free brown rice spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
3 ounces pancetta, cut into 1⁄2 by 1⁄4-inch strips
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3⁄4 cup (about 21⁄2 ounces) freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the bitter greens and cook until just tender, 2 minutes. Remove the greens and let cool, keeping the water over low heat. When the greens are cool enough to handle, squeeze out the excess water and reserve.
Return the greens water to a boil, add the pasta, and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Drain the spaghetti, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
Meanwhile, warm the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and pancetta, let them sizzle, then lower the heat to medium/medium-low. Stir occasionally and flip the garlic cloves to brown both sides. When the pancetta begins to brown, but is not entirely crisp, turn off the heat and add 1⁄2 cup of pasta water and the bitter greens.
Return the heat to medium/medium-high and let the greens simmer with the pancetta and garlic for a few minutes. Remove and discard the garlic cloves. Add the spaghetti and toss to combine. Sprinkle in the pepper and grated cheese. Toss to combine, helping the cheese to coat the pasta with splashes of the reserved pasta water if needed. Serve with grated Pecorino Romano.