Sunday, June 24, 2012

Orecchiette Pasta with Sausage and Kale

Kale was the latest leafy green veggie I had to contend with in my CSA box. I've cooked with kale before, briefly steaming it and tossing it into the Mediterranean Israeli Couscous Salad. But, when I got the kale in my box last week, I was sort of perplexed since it was a different variety than what I'm familiar wasn't the lacinto kale or curly kale that you typically see in the produce department. It was a variety that had dusty reddish, purple-colored leaves which I learned was called Russian Kale. It's a more tender variety and being that I didn't have a ton of it, I thought it would be perfect in a pasta dish.

My inspiration for this dish comes from two places. First, although the only thing that I have ordered at Lombardino's in Madison is the Spaghetti alla Bolognese, I have tasted (thanks to Chris) the Orecchiette with Fraboni's Sausage & Rapini and it is delicious! And, I don't even like sausage! Rapini (aka, broccoli rabe) is a green veggie that can be cooked very similarly to kale. So, I thought this might work. Apparently others like the combo of pasta, sausage, and kale as I found a few recipes as my starting point. Ultimately I used the recipe for Fettucine with Sausage and Kale from Gourmet as my primary recipe.

For how quickly this dish came together, the results were very good. To prep the kale, I removed the tough lower portions of the stems and really rough chopped into big pieces. The sausage I used was hot Italian sausage from the Italian grocery store, removed from the casing, crumbled and cooked. Super spicy! Ultimately I ended up using more chicken broth than what was called for in the recipe to make sure I had enough sauce. Be sure to finish your noodles in the saute pan reserving the pasta water.

Recipe from Gourmet, modified below for approximately 3 servings

  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 lb hot italian sausage, casing discarded and sausage crumbled (two big links)
  • 1/4 lb kale, tough stems discarded and rough chopped into big pieces
  • 1/2 lb orecchiette pasta
  • 1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
  • Fresh grated parmesan, pecorino ramano, or gran padano cheese


  1. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet and brown the crumbled sausage until cooked through, approximately 5-7 minutes
  2. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente and drain, reserving a cup of cooking water
  3. While pasta cooks, add kale and broth to sausage, scraping up any sausage bits from the pan. Cover and cook the kale until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add drained pasta to the sausage & kale mixture, using reserved cooking water to thin to desired consistency. Stir in cheese and thin with additional water if desired.
  4. Serve immediately

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