Sausage, Kale, and Cranberry Pasta

I first found this recipe from Racheal Ray’s when I was trying to find a use for my leftover kale. I thought the cranberry sauce would add an interesting twist to it but was a tad worried how the would all blend together.

When we finally tried it the other night… wow! Red and I really welcomed the different flavor that this pasta dish brought. The cranberry add a very subtle flavoring in the background while the savory sausages, onion, and cheeses really blended nicely with the rigatoni’s tender texture and kale’s hearty presence. This was definitely a winner and a “must-make-again” category!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
  • 1/2 pound hot bulk Italian sausage
  • 1/2 pound sweet bulk Italian sausage
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine, eyeball it
  • 1 1/4 pounds kale, stems removed and chopped
  • Black pepper
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, to your taste
  • 3/4 cup Romano cheese, 3 generous handfuls, plus some to pass at the table

Directions

Boil a large pot of water for the pasta. Add rigatoni and salt and cook to al dente or with a bite to it. Drain and reserve 2 ladles of pasta water.

While pasta cooks, heat extra-virgin olive oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage, brown and crumble it, then add garlic and onions and cook until tender 5 to 6 minutes. Add cranberry sauce and wine and stir to combine then reduce a minute. Add kale in bunches and stir to wilt down. Add the reserved pasta water. Season the dish with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.

Add pasta to the pan with sausage and kale. Top pasta with cheese and toss with kale mixture to combine. Serve immediately with extra cheese for topping.

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