Autumn Dinner: Pasta with Spicy Sausage & Kale

Autumn days and autumn nights,
Autumn feelings and autumn sights.

Leaves of red, yellow and gold,
Afternoons so bright and bold.

These are two lines of a poem I wrote in the fifth grade.  I can’t remember the rest of the poem but I always think of these lines as soon as there is a chill and crispness to the air.  (Yes – it’s quite dorky that I can remember something from Indian Hill School.)  There is a distinct feeling I get when fall arrives and I start to crave a different type of food — heartier, more comforting.

Here is a great weeknight dish using a wonderful fall / winter green — kale!  I tried to make the recipe healthier using whole wheat pasta and turkey sausage.  The spicy sausage, cheese, and broth all lend great flavor to the dish.  If you don’t like spicy food, sweet turkey sausage would be delicious as well.

I used pine nuts in the recipe but I don’t think they add a ton to the dish.  So, if you don’t have them on hand or don’t eat nuts, just omit them.  The pasta will be tasty without them.

The recipe as written will make 4 servings.  I’m already planning to eat some leftovers for dinner tomorrow night when Tim has class.

Orecchiette with Spicy Sausage and Kale

1 pound whole wheat orecchiette or shells
1 pound spicy turkey sausage, casings removed
Olive oil
About 4 cups kale, torn into bite-sized shreds
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup toasted pine-nuts
1 cup grated Parmesan

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling and cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot and set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat with a drizzle of olive oil. When hot, add the sausage and cook until browned.  Add the kale to the pan. Pour the chicken broth in, cover, and cook for about 8 minutes, or until the kale is wilted and tender.

Add kale-sausage mixture, pine-nuts, cheese, and reserved 1/2 cup of pasta water into the cooked pasta.  Serve with additional cheese.

Serves 4.

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