Pasta is definitely one of my top 5 favorite foods. It's just so versatile, comforting, and hard to screw up. How could you not love it?
Over the weekend Asher and I walked over to our local farmer's market. I knew I felt like making pasta for dinner that night, but wasn't sure what exactly I wanted on it. Generally, I'll make a home-made meat sauce or pesto when we're in the mood for pasta, but all of the beautiful seasonal stuff at the farmers market inspired me to make something different. We came across some beautiful bunches of Tuscan kale and a ginormous leek which was about 2.5 feet long (for real though, this leek was like the 8th wonder of the world...), so I decided they would be my main stars of the dish. We also had some hot Italian sausage at home already, so I thought I'd throw that in the mix too.
Well, without further ado, let's a-do this thang-
What you'll need: 1 bunch of kale, a medium leek, 2 shallots (or a small onion), 2 large cloves of garlic, a few sprigs of parsley, anchovy paste (I know some of you may think anchovies are gross, but trust me on this one. you won't even know they're there), hot Italian sausage, olive oil, squid ink pasta (or any pasta you like), stale bread roll (if it's not super stale and crumbly, you can slice it up and dry it out in the oven for ~10 minutes at 350ºf), Aleppo pepper, white wine, chicken or vegetable stock, salt, and pepper.
Ok, so the first step, as you can see, is to photograph your squid ink pasta. This really enhances the flavor and texture of the noodles.
....just kidding... I just really loved how beautiful the pasta was and wanted to show you all that pretty photo.
Sooooooo the real first step is to make your breadcrumbs. Slice up your stale roll and add it to your food processor along with 1 teaspoon of Aleppo pepper or crushed chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste. Blend it up until you have breadcrumbs. Obviously if you're not a fan of spicy-ish foods you can leave out the Aleppo or chili, though Aleppo isn't very spicy.
If you're really feeling like you want to go all-out, then I highly recommend using Nancy Silverton's prosciutto breadcrumb recipe from The Mozza Cookbook. You can find the recipe here.
Or, on the other hand, if you're feeling like you just really don't want to make breadcrumbs, you can simply use any Italian seasoned variety from the market.
Next you'll want to heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add the sausage (no casing) and cook until browned. I personally prefer to use cast iron pots, but you can absolutely use whatever large pot you have. You may need to adjust the heat accordingly if using another type of pot though.
Take the time while the sausage is browning, to chop up your leek* and shallot, and mince your garlic and parsley. You'll also want to take this time to rip the kale greens off of the stalks and into medium-sized pieces. It'll look like a lot of kale at first, but it shrinks up.
(*note: you will only use the white and very light green part of your leek. The darker the green, the tougher the texture of the leek.)
Once your sausage is browned, stir in the garlic, shallots, and 1 teaspoon of anchovy paste. Cook until shallots are sweated (~2 minutes). Be careful that your pot isn't too hot because you don't want to burn the garlic.
This is the perfect time to get your pasta water on the stove to boil. Don't forget to lightly salt the water.
Next you're going to add your leek (I only used 1.5 cups of chopped leek since the one I bought was HUGE, but one medium or small leek should equal about the same amount), kale, 1 cup of white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc), and 1 cup of chicken or veggie stock. Cover the pot and stir every two minutes until the kale begins to wilt and the leeks are getting soft.
Once you notice the kale is wilting, uncover the pot and continue cooking until the liquid is reduced by 1/3, the kale is wilted, and the leeks are soft. Taste the broth and add salt or pepper as needed.
OPTIONAL: Since I quite like anchovies, at this step I added in 3 very finely minced anchovy fillets. In the end, you can't even taste them in the sauce, they just add a little bit of salt and enhance the umami flavor. **For all you anchovy hating skeptics- trust me, you honestly can't even tell they're in there. I highly recommend adding them.
While the sauce is reducing in the previous step, you should cook the pasta according to the package's instructions. Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water when the noodles are nearly done cooking.
Note: don't forget to take another photo of the pasta as you put it into the water to even further enhance its flavor.
When the pasta is done cooking, strain it, and add it to the sauce pot along with the 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water. Stir it all up.
Lastly, sprinkle on the breadcrumbs, add your minced parsley, and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. (warning: you may never want to eat your pasta without breadcrumbs and olive oil on top again.)
SQUID INK LINGUINE WITH TUSCAN KALE, LEEK, AND SAUSAGE
Time: 1 hour
FOR THE PASTA
1 bunch of Tuscan/black kale, greens removed from stalks and ripped into medium-sized pieces
1 medium leek (white and very light green parts only)
2 shallots (or a small onion), minced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
a few sprigs of parsley
1 tsp anchovy paste
20 oz hot Italian sausage, uncased (you can substitute sweet Italian sausage if you prefer)
extra virgin olive oil
1 cup white wine (recommended- Sauvignon Blanc)
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 lb squid ink linguine (you can substitute any other type of pasta)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup of reserved pasta water
optional: 3 finely minced anchovy fillets
FOR THE BREADCRUMBS
stale bread roll
(Note: if you do not have a stale roll, slice up a regular roll or 1/3 of a baguette and dry it out in the oven for ~10 minutes at 350ºf)
1 tsp Aleppo pepper or dried chili flakes
salt and pepper to taste
Add stale bread to food processor with Aleppo pepper, salt, and black pepper. Pulse until it reaches the proper consistency of breadcrumbs.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large enameled cast iron pot over medium heat. Add the sausage (no casing) and cook until browned.
While the sausage is browning, to chop the leek and shallot, and mince the garlic and parsley. You’ll also want to take this time to rip the kale greens off of the stalks and into medium-sized pieces. (It’ll look like a lot of kale at first, but it shrinks up.)
Once your sausage is browned, stir in the garlic, shallots, and 1 teaspoon of anchovy paste. Cook until shallots are sweated (~2 minutes). Be careful that your pot isn’t too hot because you don’t want to burn the garlic.
This is the perfect time place a pot with 4-6 quarts of lightly salted water on the stove on high heat. You will use this for your pasta.
Next, add the chopped leek, kale, white wine, and chicken or veggie stock to the sausage. Cover the pot and stir every two minutes until the kale begins to wilt and the leeks begin to sweat.
If you are including the optional minced anchovy fillets (highly recommended) add them during this step too.
Once the kale starts to wilt, uncover the pot and continue cooking until the liquid is reduced by 1/3, the kale is fully wilted, and the leeks are soft. Taste the broth and add salt or pepper as needed.
While the sauce is reducing, cook the pasta according to the package’s instructions. Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water when the noodles are nearly done cooking.
When the pasta is done cooking, strain it, and add it to the sauce pot along with the 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water. Stir until the pasta is fully incorporated.
Plate the pasta and sprinkle on the breadcrumbs and minced parsley, then finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.