Casserole with Kale, Farfalle, and Sausage

So, last week, thinking about kale, I ended up wanting to make a casserole with some of the kale that we got.  I wanted to make a main dish with it, not a side dish, and thought that perhaps a pasta dish would be the way to go.  I dug around on the internet and found this recipe for a kale and pancetta dish.  It was pretty close to what I was thinking, so I used it for the basis for my recipe and then altered it to add the pasta, and some cheese with it, to make it more like what I’d been thinking.

First I put a pot of water on to precook the pasta, and I washed my kale well (washed it in a water bath a few times, then spun it dry.)  Then I cut the thick spines off, and sliced it into pieces about 2-3″.  In retrospect, I think I would make them smaller next time.

Then, I simmered the kale in a few inches of water for 4-5 minutes, and then thunked it in a colander in the sink to drain.  At this point the kale had a delicately leafy flavor and slightly more firm texture than cooked spinach.

The kale cooking.

Next, I took a package of sausage (I used a sweet sausage here), took the casings off, and fried them, crumbled, in the pan.  Then I took some of my green onion and chopped it up, and threw that and some minced garlic in the pan with the sausage for a minute or two.  After that cooked, I poured about a cup of half and half in the pan and lowered the temperature, so it would simmer for about 5-10 minutes.  I ended up wishing I had used more (although it sat in the warm pan for longer than it should have as I dithered around in the kitchen, so that may have added more.  But next time I’ll use more.) At this point, I checked out my kale.  I was worried about it being too liquidy, so I tried to wring them out a little more.  I think that might have been a mistake – the kale leaves REALLY stuck together after I did this, and I had to kind of peel them apart.  But, anyway, I then put the kale in the pan with the sausage and cream, and stirred it around.

Next, I stirred in a pound of my pasta that I’d been cooking on the side.  I used the bow ties.  I thought that I might have made too much pasta, but it ended up being ok.  I then put two thirds of the mixture in the pan, and dotted it all over with a mixture of ricotta cheese and shredded mozzarella cheese.  I had a dilemma about whether to put egg in the cheese mixture as a binder, and did a lot of research about it.  I had decided to put some in, and then at the last minute forgot it, but I didn’t miss it, so it turned out ok.  I didn’t use too much, either, so that might have had an impact.  Anyway, I then put the rest of the pasta on top, and sprinkled the whole thing with a mixture of parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs.  (I should have also used some of the mozzarella here, it would have been nice to have a creamy texture with the crunchy.)  I baked the whole thing in a 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes total.


The finished cassarole, before the cheesy topping.

How was it?  Well, the flavor was great – the combination of the kale and the sausage was really good.  I thought it was a tad on the dry side (although my husband loved it that way) and I think it would be better with a few more clumps of the cheese mixture, and some more cream with the sausage and kale.  I also think the kale could have been chopped a little smaller. But overall, I think it was a success!

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2 Responses

  1. Though the kale got stuck in my teeth, it was a perfect opportunity to floss. I’m glad that you didn’t add egg as a binder, i’m not so sure it wouldn’t have turned into the scrambled variety.
    We ate the whole thing over 3 days. I can’t wait until you make it again!

  2. try to roast your kale instead. It adds a nice texture and you wont have to worry about water. put in a 375 degree oven for 15 – 20 minutes.

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