Sausage, Tomato, and Kale Recipe

I had grand plans to share recipes with you in the past couple weeks.  And then the plans fizzled.

First I planned a peach cheesecake – I’ve been on a peach kick all summer, so when a neighbor stopped by with fresh, hand-picked peaches from a local orchard I kicked into gear.  I’d just gotten a German cheesecake cookbook from my mother for my birthday, and I decided the stars had aligned for me to make a peach cheesecake.

But it flopped. Quite literally.  While it tasted delicious, the juiciness of the peaches (the original recipe was for a berry cheesecake) was too much for the poor cake to handle and the bottom third just oozed peaches and the remains of the crust.  David’s mom called it “Peach Delight” and we all gobbled up the flavors of summertime. But the sad dessert was not photogenic, and certainly not something I’d recommend to others before tweaking it a bit more so it holds its shape.

Then yesterday morning around 8am, I beat the heat and did some gardening. I had some pruning to do in the tomato plant section and ended up with a bunch of small green cherry tomatoes as collateral. Almost immediately (it was early after all and I hadn’t had my coffee yet), a light bulb went off in my head: fried green cherry tomatoes!

We had them for dinner, crisped with flour, an egg/yogurt mixture, and panko. They flopped too. At first I thought the first batch was bitter because the oil was too hot. I turned the oil down and cooked the rest of the pint of tomatoes, heaped them up on a serving plate, and dug into them for dinner. The whole batch was so bitter we couldn’t eat them. And everything else tasted bitter, including the rib-eye steak we served with it.

I’m so glad we didn’t have guests over. Those fried green cherry tomatoes look way too innocent.

So, with photos that look deceptively delicious but don’t have good recipes to go along with them, I had a conundrum on my hands for a blog recipe.  Which brought me to this tried and true favorite.  Unlike the peach cheesecake, it’s supposed to be a bit a bit soggy, and the kale cooks long enough that the bitterness dissipates and the whole dish just tastes amazing. We used to blanch the kale separately, but we recently started just throwing it in with the liquid washed and chopped up. There’s enough liquid to “blanch” the kale, but you still keep all the nutrients in the liquid that turns into the base of your sauce (and you spare yourself making a third pot dirty).

So here you go: this week’s recipe.  I worked hard on this post, so you better go out and try it. Besides, these vegetables are all in season right now, so you don’t have any excuse not to. And did I mention it was easy? It’s really easy.

Sausage, Tomato, and Kale Linguine

1 lb pork sausage (pick your favorite flavor, you can also substitute for chicken or turkey for a healthier option. I usually buy bulk sausage, but you could also use link sausages chopped up or removed from the casings)
1 lb linguine pasta
1 cup leeks, washed thoroughly and minced
1 cup onions, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
1 bunch kale (somewhere between 6 and 10 stems), washed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 cups water or broth
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup cheese, finely grated (I like using a mix of Jarlsberg and Parmesan, though also use Gruyere when I’m feeling like splurging. Other Swiss cheeses such as Emmenthaler would be good too)
red pepper flakes to taste (optional) for less spice but still peppery flavor, consider using aleppo peppers
parsley and/or chives, chopped (optional)

1. In a heavy-bottomed saute pan, brown the sausage and set aside on a plate lined with paper towel to soak up the grease.

2. Meanwhile, set a pot of water on high on the stove to boil for the linguine. Season it liberally with salt.

3. Drain any left-over grease out of the now-empty saute pan. Add a dash of olive oil (if needed) and the leeks and onions. You want the vegetables to pick up the sausage bits and flavor on the bottom of the pan, so do not clean the pan between cooking the pork and the alliums (=members of the onion family, aka leeks and onions – maybe you learned a new word today!).

4. Add the kale and the liquid and cook covered for about six minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure all the kale gets “blanched.”

5. By this point your pasta water will likely be boiling, so add your linguine and stir, cooking to package directions.

6. When the kale is cooked down, check the level of the liquid.  There should be a bit left coming about a quarter inch up the pan. If not, add a bit more liquid. Then add the cherry tomatoes, sausage, cheese, and pepper flakes.  The cheese will thicken the leftover liquid enough to coat the vegetables and linguine.  Bring the vegetables and sauce to a light boil, then turn off the heat almost immediately. Taste and correct seasonings (notice you haven’t added salt or pepper until now, because the sausage is flavored enough and the cheese also provides salt – I rarely add pepper unless I’m not using pepper flakes).

7. Drain the noodles and gently pour them into your saute pan and carefully mix them into the vegetables.  If your pan is too small for this maneuver then mix everything together in a large serving bowl and top with the parsley/chives.  Voila! Your meal is done.  Guten Appetit!

 

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