I need some comfort food. I need pasta. I'm a ball of nervous excitement this week. I feel like a kid before their first day at a new school. I'm thinking about what I'm going to say, wear, and wondering if the kids will like me. No, Kimmy, don't have another glass of wine, and dear, definitely stop at one margarita, tequila can be bad. I'm a fairly confident person, but the idea of walking into a room of crazy talented people and trying to keep up, well, it's still pretty scary. This Friday, I'm going to Eat, Write Retreat, my first blogging conference.
While I'm a tad nervous, I don't think I've been this excited for something in a long time. I'm going to get to meet people I've been dying to meet. I'm going to learn things that I never dreamed of learning. I'm going to figure out how to arm myself in the best way to keep bringing all my readers awesome and informative (and yummy) content.
I promise myself that I will get all my courage up and talk to people, a lot of people. I'm going to explain my purpose clearly. Most of all, I'm going to have fun, because that's really what life is all about right? It's about finding amazing, kindred souls and new friends to share life's cool offerings with.
For all of you that are going to Eat, Write, Retreat, I can't wait to meet you, toast with you, have an amazing time learning with you all. Please, for the love of all things lovely, if you see me in a corner, looking around nervously, come chat with me, I don't bite. For those not going, please follow along all weekend at #ewr11 on Twitter, and I'm sure I'll have plenty to recap for you all early next week.
In the meanwhile, I'm sure you have plenty of yummy local produce to use up this week. One good way to tackle all that bounty is a good old fashioned pasta bake. It's rainy, cold, and yucky up in New England this week and this will warm you up. It's not the tomato sauce filled time of pasta bake, but a lighter, fluffier version with a little kick from the hot Italian sausage. I hope you enjoy and I'll catch you all after the weekend.
Broccoli Rabe & Kale Pasta Bake
1 cup roughly chopped kale
1 cup chopped broccoli rabe (or raab, or rapini, all the same thing)
1 pound penne pasta
1/2 pound (about four links) hot Italian turkey sausage (or pork, up to you)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
1 cup chopped garlic greens
salt and pepper
16 ounces ricotta cheese (whole or skim, your choice)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, reserving some to sprinkle over the top
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Bring 4-6 quarts of water up to a boil in a large saucepan or stockpot. While the water is getting up to a boil, prepare an ice bath and set aside. Once water is boiling, add kale and broccoli rabe, and cook for 2-3 minutes until soft. Using a slotted spoon or strainer, transfer the rabe and the kale to the ice bath to stop the cooking process and to keep that great green color. Drain, and set aside.
Now in that same saucepan of water, add your penne and cook until al dente, drain and set aside and keep warm.
In a large skillet, brown your Italian sausage (if in casing, remove from casings). Once browned and crumbly, transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.
Now, in that same skillet you were just using, melt your butter over medium heat, and then add your onion and cook until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Next, add your garlic greens and cook for about 30 seconds, until you can smell them. At this point, you want to add your kale and broccoli rabe to the skillet. Season the greens with salt and pepper and allow the greens to soak up the flavor of the onion and garlic greens. Add back in the sausage and stir to combine everything. Once everything is mixed together, take off of the heat and set aside.
While that mixture cools a bit, take a very large bowl (you're going to add the greens and pasta in soon) and combine ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, and the eggs, mix well. Dump your pasta and your greens/sausage mixture in with the cheeses and toss to coat. Sprinkle the top with additional mozzarella cheese.
Pour mixture into a 9x13 baking dish, cover with foil, and bake for 25-30 minutes until bubbly. Take out of oven, and dig in while it's piping hot!