I woke up this morning to a blanket of white outside and snow blowing sideways. Not what I was expecting at all considering everyday this week has been sunshine and small hints of spring. I had high hopes of going to the farmer’s market, but we can probably scratch that off the list till next weekend. One positive thing about this weekend is spring forward. That means taking advantage of more daylight to capture brighter photos of food. Let’s hope anyways.
Shall we talk about some pasta? Why not. Everybody loves a good pasta. Especially a creamy one that clings to each noodle. In Brock’s eyes, it’s an adult version of hamburger helper. He has a thing for anything with pasta, meat, and cheese. Let’s clear the air. This is not hamburger helper, but orecchiette (known as “little ears”) coated with mascarpone cheese. It’s heavenly.
Lacinato, dinosaur, tuscan, cavolo nero. They’re all names used synonymously to describe this kale. You could use the curly leaved kind if you can’t find it. No biggie. We’re still getting a heavy dose of greens.
Turkey sausage is used to lighten things up a bit. You won’t know the difference. Chicken or pork sausage would work nicely here too.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. It’s a secret find that is. If you have a Whole Foods, they sell their own brand of mascarpone. It’s only $2.99 for an 8oz container. The Italian brand is $6.99. Save yourself four bucks and go for the cheaper option. I don’t normally say that, but when you are on a budget, and it doesn’t compromise the overall taste of the dish, go for it. Go for the $2.99 option. You’re bank account will feel better, and you will feel better about eating it too.
The mascarpone slowly melts to form a creamy sauce. Instead of draining the pasta, I ladle the pasta directly from the pot to the pan with a slotted spoon. This way the glutens from the pasta water allow the sauce to stick and coat the pasta. It also keeps the pasta from drying out instead of draining it.
Adults will love it. Kids will love it. Maybe if it’s a milder sausage for those sensitive tongues, but it’s a sure way to get them to eat their greens.
Orecchiette with Tuscan Kale, Beans, and Mascarpone
adapted from Giada’s Kitchen
serves 2 to 4
3 cups orecchiette pasta
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound hot Italian turkey sausage, casing removed
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bunch lacinato kale, stems removed and chopped
1 (15oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions, stirring occasionally until tender, but still firm to bite. Don’t drain the pasta. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sausage mixture.
In a large, deep-sided saute pan, add the oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, onion, and garlic. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, breaking the sausage into small bits with a wooden spoon until cooked through. Add the kale, beans, and oregano. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until kale is slightly wilted. Turn off the heat. Stir in the mascarpone until melted throughout. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Using a slotted spoon, add the pasta (no water) to the sausage mixture. Toss the pasta until coated with the sauce. Ladle 1/4 cup of the pasta water to moisten the pasta if needed. Serve.