as i was planning my menu last week i decided i wanted a pasta dish that was creamy - but not heavy, full of good vegetables that i love, and filling. i couldn't find a recipe for what i was looking for, so one started to form in my head. this pasta is the perfect winter treat. it's chock full of nutrients and vitamins, and has sweet, spicy, bitter, and umami flavors and is sure to please.
1 large bunch of kale, cleaned, stems removed, and roughly chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
3 links turkey sausage, casings removed
1 large sweet onion, sliced into half rounds
1 pound penne pasta (we used whole wheat)
1 cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon coarsely ground dijon mustard
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked off
1 block of parmesan cheese
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
salt and pepper and olive oil
preheat the oven to 400 degrees. toss the sweet potato in olive oil, salt, and pepper and place on a baking sheet lined with foil (or not, they are your dish pan hands). pop the potatoes in the oven for 20 minutes or until soft, but not browned.
meanwhile, fill your (clean) kitchen sink with water and place the kale in the water. move the kale around with your hands and then let it sit for about 5 minutes. any dirt that was clinging to the kale will drop to the bottom, so when you are pulling out the kale, try not to disturb the water too much.
bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta per the package instruction.
meanwhile, in a large pan over high heat, brown the sausage, and then remove from the pan. leave the fat in the pan and add in the onions and a pinch of salt. brown these slightly, letting them also render down. once they are cooked down add the kale. you will need to move the kale around to wilt it all over. it's not as bitter as collards, so it just needs to wilt and turn a vibrant green. you may need to add some oil to the pan while the kale is cooking, it will help it wilt. add the sausage back into the pan, and add the pepper flakes if you are using them. check the potatoes and if they are done add them to the pan as well. sprinkle in the leaves of the thyme (no need to chop them).
make a well in the center and add the dijon mustard and white wine and mix them together so that the mustard can be evenly dispersed. let the wine cook down and then add in the cream. mix this through and let it cook down slightly, and then grate in the parmesan cheese. add the pasta, mix together, and grate in more cheese. remove from heat and then top with more cheese. enjoy!
this pasta is dead simple and could be made with any number of ingredients, these are just the best to use in the dead of winter. kale is one of my favorite vegetables, and i love using it here and there when it's not expected. it's so good for you too, which just makes me feel justified in my choice. play around with your favorite seasonal vegetables though, and see what you come up with.