Careful readers of this blog might note that this dish sounds quite a bit like Ballpark Pasta. In fact, I'd originally planned to make that dish with a side dish of braised kale, following this recipe. Instead, I decided to do a recipe mashup to create this new dish. Very flavorful and healthy, and worthy of it's own blog post!
1 large, good quality sausage (I used D'Artagnan Andouille)
1 Vidalia onion, diced
1/2 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup white wine
bunch kale, coarsely chopped after removing thick stems
1/2 tsp fennel seed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 lb short pasta (I used rigatoni)
2 handfuls of Parmesan or Romano cheese, extra to serve
The sausage was pre-cooked, so I started by just browning it a bit in a large pan that I'd sprayed with cooking oil. After it was well-browned, about 5 minutes, remove the sausage and set aside to cool. When cool enough, slice the sausage first in half lengthwise, then cross-wise to create semi-circles.
Add 1 tbsp of the olive oil in the skillet, heat on medium. Add the onion, saute until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper and garlic, continue to saute. This is a good time to start boiling water for the pasta, and cook according to package directions.
Stir the chopped kale into the pan with the onions along with a pinch of salt. Cook for a couple minutes on medium high heat until the kale starts to wilt. Stir in the cooking wine, balsamic vinegar and fennel seed. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer covered for about 10 minutes, until the kale has softened. Add the sausage back into the pan to re-heat and let the flavors meld.
Drain the pasta when it's cooked, and toss it with the sausage and kale mixture. Add the extra tbsp of olive oil and the cheese. You are ready to eat!
Wine: I noted that I had liked the red Rhone blend I served with Ballpark pasta, so thought I'd opt for a "Rhone Ranger" blend from California. I opted for Bonny Doon Vineyards Contra, a blend comprised primarily of Carignan, Grenache and Mourvedre. Jason's Wine Blog has more on the 2009 version of the bottle if you're interested in more details (I was more focused on the food prep than wine notes!). The pairing worked well, with the wine having the substance and a touch of spice to stand up nicely to the sausage.