Happy New Year! It’s been quite a while since my last post and for good reason: as many of you know, my daughter, Aria, was born on September 25. She is the missing piece to our little family and we are so blessed and grateful that she is here. Cooking, writing, and general creativity have gone by the wayside since then, however, as I adjust to life as a mother of two. But slowly, my brain is beginning to return and I have found the time and energy to experiment in the kitchen now and again. Last night was just such an occasion and the recipe was so delightful, I needed to share.
So I’ve been seeing “Likes” on Facebook for a service called Blue Apron. I’ve noticed many of these services cropping up (Plated is another one) where pre-portioned ingredients arrive at your door, ready for you to turn them into a delicious meal. Blue Apron was intriguing to me because it promised “seasonal ingredients from artisanal purveyors” which is right up my alley. I don’t need to sign up for Blue Apron meals as I am home most days and can chop my own vegetables—albeit while wearing a baby— but I liked that they offer free recipes on their site. A pasta dish made with linguine, kale and walnuts caught my eye because I had a bunch of Lacinato kale in my fridge, it is freezing out, and I wanted a hearty winter meal.
I made a few changes: subbing out the linguine for rigatoni, which is Johnny’s favorite pasta, using regular old walnuts, because I didn’t have red (nor have I ever heard of such a thing) and swapping Parmigiano for Pecorino because I had it in the fridge. I also added chicken sausage because why not, right? The results were fantastic: an incredibly tasty, easy meal that will fill your belly on a cold winter’s night. I never think to pair yellow onion with kale, but I really should because the sweetness of the onions complements the kale beautifully. I let Johnny take the leftovers for lunch today and I am starting to regret that decision. Anyway, add these ingredients to your shopping list and make this dish soon—and often!
Rigatoni with Kale, Walnuts and Sausage (adapted from Blue Apron)
1/2 pound rigatoni (I used ShopRite’s organic version which is really good.)
1 bunch of Lacinato kale, stemmed and leaves roughly chopped
1 package of chicken sausage (I used Al Fresco Roasted Garlic but I also really like Trader Joe’s chicken sausage.)
3 cloves of garlic, smashed into a paste (Or chopped really fine. Somehow the paste thing never quite works for me.)
The zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons walnuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup Parmigiano cheese, grated (I didn’t measure this, I just eyeballed it, because a little extra cheese is never a bad thing.)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Bring a large pot of water to boil and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, heat a large, dry pan on medium-high until hot. Add the walnuts and toast, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant. Transfer to a bowl. Wipe out the pan.
When the oven is ready, put the sausages in and let brown, flipping occasionally, about 7-9 minutes. In the same pan used to toast the nuts, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 teaspoon of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the garlic paste. Cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until fragrant and golden brown. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown and toasted. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Wipe out the pan.
Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water. Cook until just shy of al dente (still slightly firm to the bite), about 1 to 2 minutes less than the package suggests. Reserve ¾ cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta thoroughly. Set aside.
While the pasta cooks, in the same pan used to make the garlic breadcrumbs, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the kale and ¼ cup of water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes, or until the kale has wilted.
To the pan of onions and kale, add the lemon zest, remaining butter, pasta, lemon juice, ½ cup of the reserved pasta water, the cheese and as much of the red pepper flakes as you’d like. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. (If the sauce seems dry, add the remaining pasta water until you achieve your desired consistency.) Top with the garlic breadcrumbs, more Parmigiano and toasted walnuts. Enjoy!