Luckily, there are lovely green things growing in my garden (and other people’s gardens) that make it relatively simple to squeeze in a fresh and simple pasta dish for a late supper after working all weekend. The star of this dish is a nice bundle of Red Russian kale, which, despite its reputation as a cold weather plant, has been growing quite nicely in my backyard, even in the 100+ degree heat. I paired it with spicy Italian turkey sausage and flavored it with garlic and fresh basil and oregano.
I was amazed at the bright, tangy flavor of the kale in this dish. I thought for sure it would have grown especially bitter in the heat (like me). You could do this whole thing your own way, of course, but I went heavier on the kale than on the sausage, though the sausage did add plenty of richness and spice. This is really about using what you have and making what you have time for.
…and enjoying a few quiet moments in the garden, then in the kitchen, then at the table. Even if you end up sitting down to dinner in front of the TV at 9 pm when the light isn’t so good for photographs.
Pasta with Sausage, Kale and Fresh Herbs
6-8 ounces dry short-cut pasta8 ounces spicy Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 tablespoon olive oil, optional
2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
large bunch kale, stems removed, chopped (about 8 cups)
¼ teaspoon salt
a few grinds of black pepper
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving
1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until just a little firmer than you like to eat it. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water.
2. Meanwhile, place the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook until just browned, breaking the sausage apart to brown evenly. If the sausage is lean, add the olive oil to the pan to keep it from sticking.
3. Add the garlic to the pan and cook about 1 minute, stirring frequently.
4. Add the kale, salt, pepper and about ½ cup reserved pasta cooking water. Increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is well wilted and the sausage is cooked through, about 5-8 minutes. Add the basil and oregano. Cook and stir about 1 minute more.
5. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and stir to combine. If the pan seems dry, add some more of the pasta cooking water. Cook just long enough to heat through. Serve with Parmesan cheese.
Makes about 4 servings.