My farm stand has been selling a smaller more delicate variety of kale that I love to use because I don’t have to strip the leaves off the stems–I can simply chop across the stems crosswise and use virtually the entire stalk.
The brilliant thing about this dish is that the cooking liquid from the kale and sausage makes such a beautiful, flavorful broth, I’m actually able to save it to use in other dishes. It has a mild chicken flavor from the sausage, but if you choose to omit the sausage, the kale cooking liquid makes a great vegetable broth in itself. You could never do this with spinach or swiss chard, which both leave their cooking liquid with a strong acrid iron-y taste.
While the pasta is boiling, I brown the sausage (very lightly), then add some sliced shallot and kale and saute until the pasta is cooked. I toss in the pasta, along with some cooking liquid and raw olive oil. I serve this dish with plenty of grated pecorino romano cheese and black pepper.
Pasta with Sausage and Baby Kale
1 lb rigatoni or other short, fat pasta
1 bunch young kale (stems should be no more than about a quarter-inch in diameter)
1 lb chicken sausage (optional)
2 shallots, peeled and sliced thinly
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
grated pecorino romano for sprinkling at the table
Wash and slice kale crosswise into 1″ lengths and drop into well-salted boiling water. Cook for about 7 – 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
While pasta is boiling, place sausage, shallots and oil in broad skillet. Place on low heat and lightly brown sausage for about 5 minutes.