If, in fact, today is National Kale Day (and it might as well be) here is a pasta dish that features little knobs of mozzarella, pushed into the pasta and melted into the creamy sauce, chopped kale and peas. Kale has been “discovered” as being a powerhouse nutritionally, and many of us are trying to work more of it into our dishes and diets.
Baked Penne with Sausage and Kale
1 pound penne pasta, cooked
1 pound sweet or hot sausage
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup of chopped mushrooms
1 bay leaf
2 cloves of garlic, grated or minced
2 teaspoons flour
1 1/2 cups of cold milk
1 bunch of kale, stems removed, chopped
1 cup of peas (fresh or frozen)
Fresh mozzarella (about 12 of the cocktail sized balls, approximately 1 cup)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Chop the onion and mushrooms. Mince the garlic. Set aside.
Remove the coarse stems from the kale and roughly chop the remaining leaves. If using fresh peas, shell them and set aside with the kale.
If you are using link sausage, begin by removing the casings. When casings are off, or if you are using bulk Italian sausage, crumble it into a heavy bottomed saucepan, over medium heat. Brown the sausage with the bay leaf and break it up with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes. Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms. Cook for 10 minutes until the sausage, onions and mushrooms are all slightly caramelized and cooked through. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
Boil the water for your pasta and cook it (according to package directions). You may wish to slightly undercook the pasta as it will be spending some time cooking in the oven as well.
Back to the sausage mix: Sprinkle the flour over the sausage, onion and mushroom mix and stir to combine and coat everything with the flour. Add the milk and cook for 5 minutes until slightly thickened. Add the kale and peas.
Add the cooked pasta and stir until the pasta is well coated. Pour mixture into a 9×13″ casserole. Push the little balls of mozzarella into the pasta, distributing it evenly. Bake for 40 minutes until the cheese is melted and the top of the pasta is golden brown.
Adapted from the blog Feast for all Seasons, created in Vancouver, Canada.