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Orecchiette with Sausage, Kale, and Pine Nuts

Orecchiette with Sausage, Kale, and Pine Nuts

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A light pasta dish is filling and easy to throw together quickly. Use flavorful sausage, mild baby kale, pine nuts, and a high quality cheese.

Orecchiette with Sausage, Kale, and Pine Nuts

For the following recipe, I used what I had on hand; great garlic lamb sausages from French Hill Farm here in Maine, baby kale, pine nuts, and wonderful authentic parmegiano reggiano cheese. I used orecchiette pasta; orecchiette, or ‘little ears’, originally comes from Puglia, but are now found all over Italy. The classic Italian cookbook, The Silver Spoon, recommends vegetable sauces to accompany orecchiette, so a perfect combination with kale. But I think any good quality pasta will do.

To make the most of the few ingredients, here are four simple tips for making any pasta dish perfect:
1. Be liberal in salting the pasta water. Add salt until the water tastes like the sea, as I was coached in culinary school. It won’t all absorb in the pasta, just enough to flavor it well.
2. Cook just until al dente, and use a good quality dried pasta. We want a nice, somewhat firm texture. Too much cooking, or a low quality dried pasta (or even worse, both) will end up with mushy pasta.
3. Reserve a bit of pasta water to loosen up the sauce. I take a cup full out before draining.
4. Use a high quality cheese, not pre grated ersatz “Parmesan”.

See Also
Pasta norma file- Cavatelli alla Norma, Housemade Cavatelli, Charred Eggplant, cherry tomato, Pickled Peppers, Smoked Ricotta Salata and fresh Mint

 

Orecchiette with Sausage, Kale, and Pine Nuts

Kathy Betchel
A light pasta dish is filling and easy to throw together quickly. Use flavorful sausage, mild baby kale, pine nuts, and a high quality cheese.
5 from 1 vote
Course Main
Cuisine Italian

Ingredients
  

  • 8 ounces sausage
  • 5 ounces kale
  • 1 - 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes optional
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound dried orecchiette pasta
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts toasted
  • 1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano or grana padano cheese

Instructions
 

  • In a large sauté pan, cook the sausage over medium low heat until just done. Remove from heat and cut into small pieces.
  • In the same sauté pan, increase the heat to medium and add the kale. Cook until tender, then add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 1 more minute. Add the cooked sausage and stir to combine. Season with the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Turn off heat.
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add salt until the pasta water is salty like sea water. Cook the pasta until just al dente - you want the pasta to have some firmness, not mushy. Reserve a cup of the pasta water, then drain.
  • Add the cooked orecchiette to the sautéed kale and sausage. Stir to combine, adding a bit of the reserved pasta water if you prefer it a bit looser in texture. Stir in the pine nuts and grated cheese, and season to taste with ground pepper. Serve immediately.
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