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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!