The kale was growing pretty wild in the back yard and so I picked a big bunch and then started to figure out what to do with it. Kale, kale kale . . . I had some sausage in the fridge, It isn't quite hot out. I started to imagine kale and sausage soups with pasta, bean stews, braised kale, kale risotto -- wintery dishes to send off the last (almost) of our winter Kale.
As my work day got longer long braises and soups seemed further and further out of reach. I started to lean towards an old stand-by -- a quick spaghetti dinner.
James started the water boiling as I was driving home and contemplating our evening's dish.
I quickly removed the stems and chopped the kale. I usually just saute the bitter vegetable but today I decided to blanch it first in the water James boiled for the pasta (just about 1 1/2 minutes) and I liked the milder flavor and softer texture in the final dish. Once I strained out the kale I put the spaghetti in to cook while in a separate pan I heated about 6 TBs of olive oil, 4 thinly sliced cloves of garlic, and 1/2 tsp crushed red chiles. I added one chopped onion to the oil along with two sliced (pre-cooked Fra Mani brand not fresh) links of Italian sausage. Once the onion was soft I added in 1 jar of delicious Pocha beans (not very Italian but yummy and right on hand) and simmered them in the flavorful oil, and then added in the drained kale and let the pan cook over low heat while the pasta finished cooking. I added the drained spaghetti, along with about 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water, a big handful of shredded parmesan cheese and plenty of cracked black pepper and tossed and stirred vigorously until the cheese and the hot water came together into a creamy sauce. I've been using this "cacio and pepe", sauce from nothing style technique a lot lately with consistently good results.
Not pretty but pretty delicious.
"You can make this anytime," James said.