If you read any articles or blogs or medical sites about dieting in the last year or so, you've been hearing about the wonders of kale. No longer a frilly garnish to take valuable plate real estate, but this is a vegetable that should be cherished, worshipped, steamed, baked into chips and of course, juiced.
About five years ago, my sweetie lived in Chicago. When it was too cold to walk to someplace to eat (groceries were not convenient and he didn't have a car for much of that year), we would get delivery. I cannot remember the name of the place, but I did remember a dish they called "peasant pasta" that I thought I might be able to recreate.
I started with a large skillet and about .75 lb. of hot Italian sausage. I like the sweet kind as well, but this is to your taste. I cut the sausage into small chunks--about the size of your average chocolate from a box--and browned it, stirring often.
Once it was browned, I removed it with a slotted spoon and added 1 T of olive oil to the pan. Then I added the better part of a bunch of kale torn into approximately 2" pieces, and five cloves of chopped garlic. Figure 2-3 cups of loosely packed.
When the kale was wilted and bright green, I added .75 lb of chicken breast, which I had cut into bite-sized pieces.
Once the chicken was opaque, I added 2 cans cannelini beans (drained and rinsed), 1.5 cups of low-sodium chicken broth, one can of tomato paste. For spices I added a teaspoon of oregano and a few shakes of red pepper.
I simmered this combination for about an hour until the broth was mostly cooked down. Then I threw a pound of gemelli in boiling water. While the pasta was cooking, I added half a cup of heavy cream to the skillet and slowly stirred in a half cup of shredded grana padano (It was cheaper than the good parmesan this week).
Next up, I drained the pasta. I used gemelli for this because my goal was for a hearty meal, and I wanted a pasta that wasn't going to get lost in all the other flavors. The pasta went back in the pot, as did the contents of the skillet. Several stirs to mix well later and I had a very tasty meal. Well, I had a meal and a half. Nexx had at least two.
Now, I do have some plans for improving this. More kale, for one thing, possibly onions, though I'm not completely sure about those. Pancetta. Mushrooms. I figure on making this again after the first of the year when the January cold really starts setting into New England