My mother made Kale.  All the time.  In addition to broccoli rabe,  it was probably the most hated vegetable she ever forced me to eat. All these years later and broccoli rabe is now one of my favorites.  But despite becoming the avant garde darling of vegetables, I’m still stuck on kale.  It’s appearing on shelves and menus ubiquitously.  Every day I read another article telling me how healthy it is.  The problem is, it’s still not a favorite with many.  So when I recently came across “baby micro kale” I was willing to bet I had a winner! 

Orecchiette with Baby Kale & Sausage
 
1 box – 8oz. of Baby Kale Greens
1 pound Orecchiette Pasta
8 oz. sweet sausage, crumbled
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
12 oz. San Marzano Passata
1 medium vidalia onion
2 cloves garlic
Fresh basil 
 
Start by sauteing the onion and garlic in a bit of oil until translucent.  Then add the sausage and stir, browning well over medium heat, about 3-5 minutes.   Add the fennel seed and toss through to “toast”. 

~ Breaking up the sausage and toasting the fennel seed – the kitchen will smell great!  ~

Once the sausage is cooked through,  add the San Marzano Passata, season with salt and pepper and reduce the flame to medium low.  Simmer 15-20 minutes to incorporate the flavors.
~ I pulled the sauce away from the pan in this picture to illustrate the color and the consistency of the sauce ~

Once the sauce cooks long enough to lose that “raw” flavor  (taste it!)  add some torn basil leaves and a pinch of crushed red pepper if you like some spice. 
Finally, when the pasta is just short of al dente,  add the kale to the sauce and stir through to wilt.  Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce pan to allow the pasta to finish cooking.  If your sauce is too tight,  add a little reserved pasta cooking water.  The Orecchiette is the perfect shape for this dish, because it captures the sausage crumbles.  
~ I’ll let this picture speak for itself  ~

No one knew I used kale in this dish.  They just cleaned plates as fast as they could.  It was the perfect utilization of one of Mother’s Tricks – the hidden healthy vegetable.   Finally, the Chef’s Plate. 
 

~ Of course,  pass some Pecorino at the table ~

We tasted a few different Chianti with this dish as part of my upcoming report on recent release Chianti.   I can’t imagine a more wonderful pairing.   Salute! 

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