If you're going to take the journey of local eating in the winter like I am, you're going to run into your friend and mine, kale. It's a hearty green somewhere between the sweet spinach and the more bitter swiss chard. It's large, it's leafy, it's very pretty look at, but you've got to figure out someway to use it all up. You probably will receive a huge bundle from your CSA or at your winter farmers' market. Don't be intimidated. Like it's friends, spinach and swiss chard, it shrinks up when you cook it. In other words, what looks like a lot, is in reality, a little.
You're also probably going to get a for a song when it's in season at the market, because frankly, it grows in pretty large amounts. We like deals here at Lighter and Local. We like them even more when the produce we're buying packs the amount of nutritional value that kale does. It's packed with vitamins K, A and C. Cooked kale might even help in the lowering of cholesterol. (I'm hoping it balances out the sour cream and onion chips I took down today) Here's an easy, weeknight recipe that can use up that kale in your produce bin that you might be shaking your head at.
Sausage and Kale Penne
1 bunch kale, leaves removed from stem, and chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 links hot Italian turkey sausage (you could use regular sausage or chicken as well)
1/2 pound penne (regular or whole wheat is fine)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Prepare an ice bath in one large bowl and set aside. Bring a pot of water up to a boil, add kale and cook until tender. When kale is cooked, take out of boiling water with a strainer and plunge into ice bath. Drain and set aside.
Add pasta to boiling water from the kale and cook as directed, until al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Remove sausages from their casings, add to the skillet and brown, breaking it up into crumbles. Once the meat is browned, add garlic and cook for about a minute. Add kale and red pepper flakes at this point, tossing to coat with sausage and garlic.
When pasta is finished, drain and add to the skillet, coating it in the sausage mixture. Add remaining teaspoon of olive oil and toss to coat pasta.
Grate fresh Parmesan cheese over the bowls of pasta. Don't skip the cheese, the nutty flavor of the Parmesan really adds to this dish.