Below is the first recipe featured in our What’s For Dinner … cooking series! Our family loves this recipe and we make it a few times a month. I love that it combines a veggie and a protein to make a hearty one dish dinner. This recipe is very quick to toss together and you can get your family involved with the garlic bread or even help with prepping the kale.
As always you can swap out ingredients to fit your family’s needs. Use gluten free pasta, add extra veggies and omit the meat. Skip the cheese if you need to go dairy free. Let me know if you have any questions below and be sure to watch our first episode of What’s For Dinner… here to see how we put this dish together!
What You Need
16oz Spagetti Pasta
hearty pinch of salt for pasta water
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon oregano
1 bunch or about 3 cups of fresh kale ripped into bit sized pieces
4-5 fresh basil leaves
half a white onion diced
2-3 fresh garlic cloves finely chopped
about 2 tablespoons or so of olive oil to use on the cooked pasta after it has been drained + in the sauce pan before cooking onions.
grated parmesan cheese
1 pound or 5 links of Italian sausage (You can use ground beef, chicken or turkey here as well. Or omit the meat and add another veggie or extra kale)
bread for toasting + 2-3 extra fresh garlic gloves to rub onto toasted bread
A 2qt sauce pan with lid
What To Do
-Always start by prepping your ingredients. You can do this earlier in the day too to make meal time cooking even quicker. I bought whole kale leaves here, but you can buy precut kale already too. If you have kale leaves like me, just rip the kale leaves off their stocks and rip them into bite sized pieces. Save the kale stocks in the freezer to use for soup stocks!
-Next, prep your fresh basil. I love using fresh basil in this recipe because the fresh herb really brightens up the dish. Be sure to chiffonade your basil. Here is how, I pull about 4-5 whole basil leaves and stack them on top of each other. Then I roll them up tightly into a cigar shape, then chop the rolled basil leaves. This creates tiny ribbons of basil that will permeate your pasta dish deliciously! Chiffonade basil is just a nicer way of chopping it. If you don’t mind, you can always just chop the basil into tiny pieces as well, it will taste the same.
-Now dice your onion and then garlic. I like to put all my ingredients into small bowls to make cooking time easier. Sometimes if I prep earlier in the day I just cover the bowls and keep them in fridge until it is time to make dinner!
-Now, in a large deep sauce pan (keep in mind your whole dish will end up being prepared in this sauce pan so make sure it is large like the one you see here) prep your sausage! Since the sausage has enough fat within it you won’t need to oil your pan. Just heat your pan and keep it at medium heat and brown your sausage until it is cooked through. You can buy crumbled sausage or sausage links. I like to buy sausage links, remove the casing they are in and break it up myself while cooking it.
-While your sausage cooks, begin boiling your pasta. Be sure to NOT over cook it. I like to cook mine until they are soft with a slight bite to the pasta. Remember, your pasta will further cook in the large pan with the other ingredients. If you over cook it now it will end up with a mushy texture. To get the perfect “al dente” cooked pasta bring your salted water to a boil then add in your pasta. Cook your pasta for about 6-7 minutes and then take a piece out to taste. If it is still hard, keep cooking the pasta for about a minute and keep checking every minute until the pasta is soft but with a tiny bit to it.
-When the sausage is finished cooking, transfer it to a plate lined with a paper towel so the extra oil will soak into it. Keep the brown bits and left over oil in the pan! This will help flavor your pasta dish.
-While your pasta finishes cooking, prep your bread if you’d like. We just used sliced sourdough bread and toasted it in the oven for about 8 minutes until they were crisp. Then I brought my family into the kitchen to rub fresh, raw garlic cloves on to the crisp bread. This gives the bread a great garlic taste that isn’t too over powering. I put butter on the table if they’d like butter on their bread too, but with just the garlic it tastes great!
-Once your pasta is finished, before draining use a measuring cup and SAVE 1/2 CUP OF YOUR PASTA WATER! This is very important because we’ll use it later to help bring the pasta dish together. The salty, starchy pasta water will help add flavor and bind the pasta dish together. Once the pasta is drained I like to drizzle a little bit of olive oil on to it and toss it so the noodles don’t stick together.
-Now it is time to put it all together!
-Start by warming 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the large sauce pan you cooked the sausage in. Add in your onions, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and oregano. Cook these together until the onions are soft. Add in your garlic and cook all this together for about a minute.
-Add in your kale and toss with the cooked onions and garlic. Then add in your cooked sausage and toss. Place a lid over the sauce pan and left the kale soften and cook down. This takes about 2-3 minutes.
-Once your kale is soft add in your pasta and the pasta water you saved. Add in the fresh basil and a few hearty pinches of grated Parmesan cheese. Toss everything together until it is all incorporated.
-Serve right away while it is warm and enjoy! This pasta is a great dinner because in has a protein and veggie mixed right into the pasta. It tasted incredible!
Photos by Lily Ro Photography