orecchiette with farmers market sausage and kale

orecchiette with farmers market sausage and kale
The spoils of my farmers market bounty. yum.

The best part of farmers market shopping is talking to the producers.  I stopped by the West Winds Farms booth to get some grass-fed, organic meats, and she told me about an Italian sausage that she loved – pork sausage with lemon and orange.  My ears perked.  Tell me more.  She described the sausage as a perfect marriage between the citrus and the pork fat, and I was sold.  Immediately, I pictured this dish in my head.

I love sausage in pasta dishes, and I thought that a light, lemony cream sauce would be delicious.  Then, I remembered I had just bought some beautiful kale from the fine folks at True Vine Farms. Perfection – dinner was born.

Orecchiette with Sausage and Kale
Serves two big portions

2 links of Italian sausage
1/2 pound of orecchiette pasta
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of white wine (I used Clifford Bay sauvignon blanc)
2 teaspoons of lemon zest
juice of one lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups of kale (diced)
3/4 cup of heavy cream

To get this dish started, I put a huge pot of pasta on to boil. I wait until the water is boiling before adding a hefty serving of salt to the water.  It should taste like sea water, because this is your only chance to season the pasta.  Then I cook the pasta for 11 minutes (according to package instructions.)

While the pasta is getting yummy, I start browning the sausage.  I took the casing of the sausage and cut it into chucks (roughly 1/2 inch chunks) and browned it over medium heat.  Once the sausage is nice and brown, I removed it from the pan.

This particular sausage was pretty lean and didn’t render much fat, so I added some olive oil to get the shallots and garlic cooking.  I sautéed them for only 30 seconds or so before deglazing the pan with the white wine.  This is great for two reasons. 1 – it stops the garlic and shallots from burning, and 2 – the wine picks up the flavor from the sausage on the bottom of the pan.  I then added the lemon zest and its juice.

After that cooked down for a minute or so, I added the kale and put on the lid.  I steamed the kale for 5 minutes.  Kale needs a little bit to get tender, but I kept a little bite in the kale.  After 5 minutes, I added the heavy cream, and let it reduce for a minute or so.

To finish, I added the drained pasta and sausage back to the pan.  If you notice that the sauce is not quite coating the pasta – add some of the pasta water.  Once everything is at the same temperature, you’re done.

When I plated I added a nice sprinkle of parmesan cheese and some basil. This is a great dish done in less than 30 minutes.

Try it out and tell me what you think!

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