Kale Pesto-Ish Pasta with Italian Sausage

This recipe was adapted from “Kale Sauce with Any Noodle” from the Six Seasons cookbook.  The sauce is pesto-ish, although it doesn’t contain any nuts, and we deviated by adding anchovies, chili flakes, and spicy Italian sausage.  Nevertheless, it is equally bright, equally delicious, and will go with any pasta of your choice.  Although I think the tubular shape of the rigatoni works perfectly for scooping up the luscious green sauce and crispy sausage bits for maximum flavour in every bite.  

P.S. My friend Yuki has two beautiful daughters who are intensely picky eaters.  To ensure they get their required daily veggie intake, she has a brilliant parenting hack.  She makes a large batch of this kale sauce plain and keeps a jar of it in the fridge.  She then sneaks a spoonful or 2 into everything she makes (stews, pasta sauces, etc.) and they are none the wiser (except the one time she added a little too much to eggs and they turned a very suspicious bright green!).

In the same token, if you wind up with too much of this kale sauce, you can drizzle it into just about everything as well.  Whether or not you have kids!

Kale Pesto-Ish Pasta with Italian Sausage

What you need:
1 bag of  pre-chopped kale
1/2 pound rigatoni, or any pasta of your choice
1 pack of spicy Italian sausage (or 5 pcs.)
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 anchovy fillets
Olive oil
Chili flakes
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

What to do:
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add lots of salt until it tastes like the sea.

2. Once the water is boiling, add the kale and cook for 5 mins. Scoop kale out with a slotted spoon (or tongs) and transfer to a food processor or blender.

3. Add the pasta to the pot of water that is still boiling and follow instructions to cook until al dente.  When done, reserve several ladles of the pasta water then drain the noodles.

4. Whiz the kale in the food processor (or blender) with a drizzle of olive oil, garlic, anchovies, and half of the parmesan cheese, adding some pasta water to help create a nice thick puree.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

5. Heat up a pan with some olive oil and saute the spicy Italian sausage.  Break it up as it cooks.  Brown the meat well until you have severe caramelization and delicious crispy bits.  Pour sausage meat and the oil into a bowl and set aside.

6. Transfer drained pasta to a serving bowl.  Add the kale puree, cooked Italian sausage (including the oil), chili flakes, and half of the parmesan cheese. Mix well.  Add some pasta water to loosen the sauce and keep mixing until all the noodles are glistening and coated well with the bright green sauce.  Keep tasting and add more chili flakes, pasta water, salt and pepper as needed.

7. Grate the rest of the parmesan cheese on top and serve.

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