bits and pieces

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Spicy Kale and Sausage Linguine: vegetarian and à la wildboar

Sausage and kale pasta. Nom? NOM.
Thankfully the Parmesan makes it NOT vegan. Saved by my
own cheese obsession.
Kale right? ... Kale. I don't know. For some reason kale has never been on my radar screen. Don't get me wrong - I love leafy greens, and I love comfort food, but for some reason kale has always been a nemesis of mine. Maybe it's too cool for me - kale is an ingredient I picture hipsters buying in bulk and claiming it's better than poutine (no matter how OK I say kale is in the rest of this article, it will never be better than poutine).  I feel it's an ingredient chefs would use to be smarmy... "well I could have used spinach or pea greens or arugula, but ah - how plebian! How common place! Now eat your kale darling".

Sad news for you imaginary chef and silly hipsters - kale is actually one of the more plebe foods out there. And sad news for me, I should probably be eating it. Despite it's hip status of late, kale used to be one of the most cultivated and dare I say popular? vegetables in Europe. Back in the day the Romans ate it. It doesn't get much more plebeian than that. 
dig you fat legged boy!
cure those rickets!

In WWII, kale was an integral crop in Britain's "Dig for Victory" war effort. Yes, really. That was a thing.

Now why did everyone from Pliny to Churchill get down with the k-a-l-e? Sadly, it's incredibly good for you. Yes I know. We all know this. This is why kale has experience such a surge in popularity in the last ten years. High in beta-carotene, kale is also a great anti-carcinogen. The little vitamins in kale work over time to repair your DNA and help block cancer cells. Even for those of us who still feel young and invincible, kale is rich in Vitamin C, calcium and Vitamin K which helps your blood and your bones and has also been linked to inhibiting Alzheimers and the cell-death which accompanies it.

So yeah, maybe I shouldn't be hating on kale, but whatever. The hipsters made me do it. Anyway, after like 6 people asking me for 'how to cook kale' suggestions, I finally bit the bullet and had at it. And it was.. OK. It's odd - I always heard people complain about the bitter taste of kale. I found the taste actually entirely lovely, but the texture kind of threw me. I felt like I was eating scary seaweed. This pasta tastes super super excellent - just make sure you chop your kale a little bit finer than I did. And honestly - the best part of this pasta is the poor man's parmesan. Which actually, I think makes this meal accidentally vegan. AGAIN. How does this keep happening to me? Oh wait, ha. The pasta probably/hopefully has eggs in it. Saved!

 1 and a half fistfuls of linguine. See how technical I am? I am consistently terrible at judging pasta. If anyone can fix me, I'd be thankful. 
1 28 oz can (the big ones) of crushed/whole tomatoes. The one I bought was accidentally fine herbs tomatoes. I have no idea if it made a difference. 
1 bunch of kale, chopped into small pieces. I chopped my kale into about inch to half inch pieces and I kind of wish I'd chopped it a little more finely. So massacre that kale. Unless you're not a whiner like me and enjoy the odd sea-weedy mouth texture of kale. If you're not 100% sold on kale - do half a bunch of kale and a half cup of chopped mushrooms.
1 onion, chopped. I used a red onion because I love red onion, but whatever. Use what you have.
4 sausages. I made two batches to accommodate household eating habits. One had wild boar sausage (more on that in the next post) and the other was spicy Italian veggie sausages which were actually super good. I get skeptical with fake meat (who are you trying to convince? - it doesn't taste like meat). 

2 pieces of bread, toasted. 
1 tsp garlic powder

another pinch of garlic powder (used in a separate application, ooh lala)
1/2 tsp of fennel seeds
1 tsp italian seasoning (some combination of thyme, rosemary, basil, etc) If you have fresh basil it will be divine in this.
1 tsp red pepper flakes (or less if you're a wimp)
salt and pepper to taste

olive oil. 
some red wine for drinking + splashing in your sauce  with wanton abandon

other things you will need: 
a big giant pasta pot
a small frying pan for your poor man's Parmesan
a cutting board and knife (duh)
a food processor if you have one OR a plastic bag (stay tuned)
tongs or a fork

  1. Prep your veggies and stuff. Chop onions/kale/whatever. News team, assemble!
  2. I think this recipe is easier if you cook your pasta first. So cook your linguine according to the directions, but leave it a liiiiitttle al dente. As in cook for 7/8 minutes vs. 9/10. Once it's done, set aside and run cold water all over it to stop the cooking process and stop it from clumping together. Also - SEASON YOUR WATER. You should always always through a big ol' pinch of salt into your pasta water when you set it to boil. I also like to throw a bayleaf in their too just for kicks. But definitely salt your pasta water. It's what real Italians do. 
  3. While your pasta is boiling away, chop your toasted bread finely. Or just throw them in your food processor and pulse until their in small-ish crumb form. Not powdered, but not chunks of bread. If you don't have a food processor, chop your bread finely and put it in a plastic bag and smash it up. This will sort of help and it's fun. Then - heat a tiny bit of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat, and add your breadcrumbs and sprinkle with the tsp of garlic powder. Get it reaaal garlicky. Fry them for a few minutes, tossing them, until they're browning and crunch. Remove from heat and set aside. You just made poor man's parmesan aka PMP. Honestly these are probably the best part. Kidding. But not really.
  4. Once your big pasta pot is empty of pasta and water, add a splash of olive oil and heat. Add your onions, a pinch of salt, and sautee for until they're translucent and just starting to brown. Push them to the side and add your sausage (veggie or non-veg). Brown it on all sides. This will take about 5-10 minutes depending on the size of your saucisse (oooh). 
  5. Once your sausage is browned (hee hee), add your kale, and cook for a few minutes until it starts to wilt. If you're using mushrooms, add them now too. Add a splash of that red wine you've been drinking. Phenomenal! 
  6. Add your seasoning (pepper flakes, fennel, Italian seasoning)Add the whole can of crushed tomatoes. Note: if you use whole tomatoes - it is a very messy idea to dump them in your pasta and start squeezing them with your hands to break them down. Tomatoes burst and go everywhere. You have been warned. Stir to combine, and then turn the heat up to medium high. Cook for 8-10 minutes.
  7. Using tongs/a fork/your daring and pain-numb fingers, remove the sausage and set on a cutting board. Add your linguine to the pot, stir into your weird veggie mix and cook for another minute.. then add about 3/4 of your PMP and stir. Cook for one additional minute or so. 
  8. Slice your sausage on the horizontal. I like to do this afterwards because I can ensure I get lots of tasty veggie sausage. If you're cooking a real sausage it will also help ensure your sausage doesn't crumble and fall apart on you (a tragic event).
  9. Using tongs, tong your pasta into bowls/plates. Yes I did just use tong as a verb. Place sausage on top of pasta and top with remaining PMP. Add a sprinkle of real parm too if you'd like. Enjoy. You are now eating kale. You hippy scum.
KALE. It's healthy. I feel like a mermaid when I eat it...
because it feels like I'm eating seaweed. But it's good (?).
Note - more on wild boar next blogpost. This stuff smelled SO good cooking it up I almost wanted to eat it. But obviously I didn't. Taylor ate it all though. I am currently planning my week around cooking wild board. Yeehaw.

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