Here is a classic example of what Italians call pastaasciutta, or "dry pasta." The sauce is more of a saute of the ingredients, to be tossed with the cooked noodles, than a uniform, pourable sauce.
Servings: 4 - 8
Yield: Makes 4 main-course servings or 8 side-dish servings
- 1 pound curly kale, hard, thick stem ends trimmed
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 pound sweet italian sausage
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced paper-thin
- Generous pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1 pound short, sturdy whole-wheat pasta (or whole-grain pasta), such as penne, rigatoni or rotini
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Drop in the kale, cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the leaves are bright green and the stems are just tender. Remove the kale with tongs or a slotted spoon, reserving the cooking water to cook the pasta, and drain the greens in a colander. Chop coarsely and set aside.
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil. Squeeze the sausage out of its casings into the skillet, breaking up any large clumps with a wooden spoon, and add the garlic. Cook gently over medium to medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the garlic has softened but not browned and the sausage has lost its pink color and is barely beginning to brown. Pour off fat. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add the chopped kale and red pepper flakes and cook 4 to 5 minutes, until well combined and heated through.
Add the tomato paste to the wine and pour it into the skillet. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until some of the liquid has evaporated. Drizzle in the remaining 3 tablespoons oil.
Meanwhile, reheat the cooking water from the kale (or use fresh salted water) and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, until al dente, taking care not to overcook it. Drain the pasta in a colander, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water, and return the pasta to the pot. Spoon about three-quarters of the sauce into the pasta and toss well to combine. Add a tablespoon or two of cooking water, if necessary, to loosen the sauce a bit. Divide the pasta among four shallow bowls and spoon the remaining sauce over each portion.
Adapted from freelance writer Domenica Marchetti, whose first cookbook, "The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy" (Chronicle Books, 2006), was published after this recipe appeared.
Tested by Marcia Kramer.
Email questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.