Monday, June 25, 2012

penne with sausage and greens

This was the winter of kale.

This was the spring of kale.

This is the early summer of kale.

We have learned how to make kale chips and we have learned the secret to enjoying kale: chop it into very small, tiny, miniature pieces. Chopped like that, we ate it almost every week and hardly noticed.

See those fine bits of kale and chard?

You may be a kale fan.

You may enjoy eating tough pieces of the same green leaf over and over again.

We're not and don't.

But we do, of course, want to eat local vegetables in season, which is why we're still eating kale six months after we learned to chop it very finely. (When does the season end???) And now Swiss chard is joining the kale ranks.

We've also sought out new recipes to use this everlasting vegetable, which leads me to today's offering: penne with sausage and greens.

Dear Ricardo calls for arugula, but I knew kale would work. Turns out, so does Swiss chard. All these green options make it a very flexible recipe for the whole year long. I like that, since it also comes together quickly – 35 minutes or so – so it's easy to make after work.

I seem to be using "fun" as a prerequisite for recipes these days – remember the potato chips in the lettuce wraps? – and this one definitely measures up. Because you actually get to snip open your raw sausages and squeeze that tasty meat right out! How fun is that? Let me tell you, it's pretty darn satisfying.

Using sausage meat like this is brilliant, really, since the meat is already seasoned and ready to make me a quick dinner. No fuss, no muss (except for the fun squeezing).

What more can I tell you?

Oh, right, about Ricardo. Do you know this dear man? We haven't actually met him, but we are addicted to his cooking videos.

Apparently, he's quite famous in his native Québec. A little while ago, he started recording "Ricardo and Friends" in English. Every episode, he has people come over and he cooks for them with great enthusiasm in his big Montreal kitchen. Sometimes, he cooks for the workers re-paving his street, sometimes he cooks for his friends' kids, but usually, he cooks for two or three good-looking Montréalais friends. (Why are French Canadians always so much more chic than English Canadians?)

The friends all ooh and ahh over the meal and we invariably wish he would invite us over.

Sometimes, we watch him in French to practise our French, but he seems to speak a lot more quickly in French. It's like his whole personality changes, which is fascinating in itself.

But anyway, back to this recipe. It works! It makes a great dinner! Don't worry about that whole cup of red wine – it cooks right in and helps finish the sausage-y sauce.

Bon appétit!

One year ago: Kathleen Claiborne's hot cakes
Two years ago: Chili pasta

penne with sausage and greens
adapted from Ricardo Larrivée
serves 4 5 


375 g. (3/4 lb.) penne pasta
30 ml (2 tbsp.) olive oil
450 g. (1 lb.) good sausage meat, pork or turkey, squeezed out of the casing
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 tsp. Korean red pepper flakes or hot pepper flakes
4 plum (or any) tomatoes, diced
500 ml (2 c.) Swiss chard, kale or baby arugula, chopped finely
250 ml (1 c.) red wine
250 – 500 ml (1 – 2 c.) Asiago cheese, grated

Boil the pasta in salted water until it's al dente. Drain and toss with 1 tbsp. olive oil. Set aside.

In the mean time, heat a heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the other 1 tbsp. of oil. Brown the sausage meat, garlic and pepper flakes, breaking up the meat into small pieces as you please. This will take about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes. If you're using chard or kale, add it now. Stir often until the liquid has evaporated, about 7 minutes. Pour the wine in and try not to panic about the amount of liquid you now have in your pan. Cook for about 3 minutes. Add the pasta and stir until everything is hot. Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper if necessary. If you're using arugula, stir it in now.

Serve in wide, shallow bowls with lots of Asiago cheese.


  1. Wow - This looks to DIE for! I have a big pot of kale growing on my balcony. I just chopped half of it away to make kale chips for the first time but I think I know where the other half is going!!