Orecchiette with Sausage, Kale, Garlic and Pine Nuts. A bold mix of flavors with a kick from red pepper flakes and spicy Italian sausage! This will be a dish your whole family will love
I’ve gone through several lunch evolutions since I moved to Stillwater. When I first moved here, I went home for lunch every day. That got old pretty quickly and, even worse, a couple of times I fell asleep on the couch after lunch. Then I went completely the other direction, and ate out every day. It’s more fun and much more social, but it’s also expensive. And, there aren’t a whole lot of healthy options in Stillwater. Well, there probably are, but when everyone else is getting yummy deliciousness I lose all willpower. Now I eat lunch at home most of the time, but will still occasionally eat out.
I almost always have Italian sausage in the freezer. The links are perfect individual portions, and it cooks up so easily. My favorite type to use is Johnsonville Spicy Italian Sausage. I first discovered the Italian sausage a couple of years ago, and for a while only had one recipe that I made. Thanks to Pinterest, I’ve been able to branch out and discover many new recipes.
One of the very early recipes I found was Orecchiette Pasta with Kale, Sausage, and Garlic Chips. Of course I had to add a few twists of my own, and created Orecchiette with Sausage, Kale, Garlic and Pine Nuts.
Wow, this Orecchiette with Sausage, Kale, Garlic and Pine Nuts is excellent, and absolutely bursting with flavors. It is very easy to make, and requires only 2 pots. While the pasta cooks, you can prepare the rest of the dish. The flavors work really well together, and you can control the level of spice.
KEY INGREDIENTS FOR ORECCHIETTE WITH SAUSAGE, KALE, GARLIC AND PINE NUTS
- Italian sausage links – I use Johnsonville Hot Italian Sausage. Of course, you can use your favorite type of sausage
- Orecchiette Pasta – almost every major pasta brand makes orecchiette. I love the “little ears” shape
- Pine Nuts – raw pine nuts are delicious, but I always toast them first, to release the oils and add a wonderful new flavor dimension
- Red Pepper Flakes – the hot Italian sausage doesn’t add enough of a kick for me, so I add some more heat. Just be careful, because a little goes a long way
- Vegetable Broth – I use my Homemade Vegetable Broth because it’s simple to make, and has so much flavor. If you use the box, I recommend low sodium
- Parmesan – I use fresh grated Parmesan cheese. There is no comparison between fresh and the stuff in the can
Both garlic and pine nuts are tricky. It takes a few minutes for them to go from raw to golden brown, but then they burn in seconds. And once they burn, it’s too late. I’ve done it numerous times with both, and it’s never a good situation. Besides, pine nuts are expensive…you don’t want to do that. Just watch them closely, and you will be fine.
As I mentioned earlier, I use Orecchiette for this this Orecchiette with Sausage, Kale, Garlic and Pine Nuts. I like the “little ears” shape, because they are kind of a pocket for the other ingredients. But really, any short-cut pasta would work Kale is the main vegetable, but I also add baby spinach in the last couple minutes of cooking. There’s no such thing as too much green. You can also substitute regular pork sausage, or lighten it up with chicken sausage or turkey sausage.
This Orecchiette with Sausage, Kale, Garlic and Pine Nuts is a regular on my lunch routine.
Adapted from Maui Flour Child
- 4 ounces Orecchiette pasta
- 1 Tablespoon pine nuts
- 2 spicy Italian sausage links, casings removed
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 Tablespoon avocado oil or canola oil
- 1/2 cup yellow onion, sliced
- 3 cloves raw garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 cups kale, stalks removed, chopped into small pieces, rinsed thoroughly
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 1 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box
- Add pine nuts to a large, dry skillet. Toast over medium-low heat until golden brown, tossing occasionally. Watch carefully, as pine nuts will burn quickly. Remove and set aside.
- Melt butter in large skillet. Add onion and lightly season with salt. Cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, until onions are golden. Remove and set aside in small bowl. Add 1/2 tablespoon oil and sliced garlic, and cook until golden on both sides. Remove, and add to bowl of onions.
- If using Italian sausage, wipe pan clean. If using turkey or chicken sausage, add 1/2 tablespoon oil
- Break up sausage into small pieces, and brown sausage in pan over medium heat.
- Add red pepper flakes when sausage is almost browned through. Add kale and broth to pan. Reduce heat to low, and cook until kale is tender. The smaller the pieces of kale, the faster they will cook.
- Drain the pasta, reserving 1 Tablespoon of pasta water. Add the pasta, reserved water, spinach, garlic and onions. Cook until water is absorbed and spinach has wilted
- Add pine nuts and black pepper, and stir to combine
- Transfer to a serving bowl. Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese. You may also want to add a few more red pepper flakes