HoM is KrAzY for Kale … but he’s not a hippie …

20 Aug

Kale & Sausage Pasta

(Disclaimer: If you start this recipe on an empty stomach, make sure you have light snacks! The last time HoM made this, we had just gotten home after an epic bike ride and I was famished. It felt like an eternity before I got to tuck in! I am not good at being hangry. — C)

scrumptious kale

This recipe was born out of necessity.  This spring, I planted a ton of kale in my garden without really having any idea of what to do with it.  I’ve never cooked with kale so I I used it initially in smoothies and made kale chips; both popular uses for the trendy superfood. I was still inundated with the stuff.  I decided that I needed to come up with another use for it, something more substantial which would highlight its textures and flavours as well as take advantage of its health benefits. 

I wanted to use it with pasta because I love rustic, chunky sauces.  The inspiration for the flavours though come from a sandwich that I had for lunch while I was in Rome a few years ago.  The sandwich, which still haunts me, consisted of braised greens (rapini if my memory is correct) and chunks of sausage on focaccia.  It was garlicky, slightly spicy, and just plain delicious. (In other words: food that promotes kissing — C)


  • 2 Italian sausages – removed from casings and torn into bite-sized piece
  •  ½ cup pancetta – chopped
  • 2 medium sized onions – sliced pole to pole
  • 3 cloves of garlic – pressed*
  •  2 handfuls of kale (or as much as you care to use) – tough stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp of chili flakes
  •  2 cups of chicken stock
  •  2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 300g rigatoni**
  • Salt and pepper***
  • Plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese to garnish


1)    Sauté the sausage and pancetta in a saucepan in olive oil over medium heat until browned (5 minutes).  Remove and set aside.

2)    Sauté the onions with a small pinch of salt over medium-low heat until soft and translucent (5-10 minutes).

3)    Add the garlic, chilies, and a pinch of black pepper and sauté for 30 seconds more until the garlic is fragrant.

4)    Add the kale, sausage, pancetta, and stock to the pan, cover, and cook until the kale is tender.  Check periodically and if the pan is getting too dry, add more water to prevent the sauce from burning (20 minutes).

5)    When the kale is tender, remove the lid and continue to cook until the sauce is reduced and concentrated (5 minutes).

6)    Toss with cooked pasta and garnish with pepper and Parmesan cheese

Makes two hearty servings****


*To press or not to press?  When it comes to garlic, this is major debate amongst cooks.  Most TV celebrity chefs advocate for chopping with some such as Anthony Bourdain claiming that using a press is crime punishable by brutal torture.  I have yet to hear a satisfactory explanation as to why using a garlic press is such a sin.  I have heard it argued that a press causes the garlic to oxidize faster.  Many TV chefs, however, produce a paste by finely chopping the garlic and then adding a pinch of salt to act as an abrasive agent and rubbing it with the flat of a knife.  To me, this produces the same effect as a press, only with a lot more work.  I  believe TV chefs like to chop garlic to show off their superior knife skills and demonstrate that they are indeed better than the average home cook.  Jamie Oliver and the chefs at America’s Test Kitchen all use a garlic press and, to me, they are all about preparing good food without a lot of pretentious pageantry.   Anyways, until proven wrong, I am going to continue to use a garlic press. Rant over.

** I like to use rigatoni, but you could use another type of pasta such as tagliatelle or pappardelle which goes well with rustic sauces.  Avoid using finer, more delicate pastas like spaghettini which cannot stand up to this type of sauce.

*** Be careful with the salt.  The sausage, pancetta, stock, and cheese are already salty as is the pasta from being boiled in salted water.  Before serving, taste the sauce and see if it needs more salt.  You can always add more, but you cannot take it out.

**** Depending on how hungry you are, this recipe might make more than two people can consume in one sitting.  I am generally not a big fan of leftovers, however this pasta actually heats up pretty well.  I like having it the next morning for the ultimate breakfast of champions.


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