Italian Sausage with Kale and Orecchiette


Just because my kitchen has gone from small and not very useable to the approximate size of a twin bed (extra long at least) does not mean I can’t cook a decent meal. Right? Because I thought no better time to start a food blog than while in the middle of a kitchen remodel. I am ripping down drywall saying a fond farewell to chipped baby blue laminate counter tops.

Just take a deep breath and think positive

Just take a deep breath and think positive

I have been dreading/anticipating this endeavor with the husband for the past couple years. The thing is I don’t like remodeling, I like the finished outcome but I don’t like dust and loud noises. From our spare bedroom/temporary kitchen/office/nursery (more on that later)/wine cellar/shoe closet I will now be cooking and preparing our meals.


It turns out that I have been leaning more on Italian cuisine than usual. A few simple and delicious ingredients brought together with some salty pasta water. This recipe can be made in one pan, two is easier though, but if you only have a hotplate a small skillet and a big sauce pan you got this. The sausage is homemade, which is way easier than it sounds.  It is so flavorful and you control what goes into it.  Do it once and I don’t think you’ll go back to premade sausage.  My version is mildly spicy, so feel free to dial back on the cayenne or crushed red pepper flakes.



Italian Sausage with Kale and Orecchiette
Serves: 4-6
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes


  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon fennel, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ tablespoons red wine or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried or fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped fine
  • 1 large bunch of kale, ribs removed and roughly chopped
  • 12 ounces whole wheat orecchiette (or white if you prefer)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


  1. Heat your skillet over medium high heat
  2. Combine pork with the next ten ingredients. Use hands to gently combine without overworking.
  3. Take about a tablespoons worth and form into flattened patty, fry in pan until no longer pink inside, about 60-90 seconds per side
  4. Let cool briefly and taste, adjust your seasonings as necessary
  5. Put remainder of sausage mix in skillet and break up with wooden spoon or spatula. Cook until browned and cooked through.  Drain off all but a tablespoon of fat.
  6. Add chopped kale and combine with sausage, let cook until starting to wilt.
  7. Taste a piece of the kale and salt according to taste, the sausage is already salted so it may not need any.
  8. Put a large saucepan or stockpot on high heat with 4-5 quarts of water.
  9. Add 2-3 tablespoons of salt as it is starting to boil
  10. Cook pasta as directed, if using wheat check it in about half the directed time, it tends to cook fast and you do not want to overcook it.
  11. Take a measuring cup and reserve a cup or so of pasta cooking water.
  12. When pasta is al dente (still has a little bite to it when you taste it), drain and add directly to sausage and kale in skillet.
  13. Stir briefly to distribute, add a little reserved pasta water as need to add moisture along with the olive oil.
  14. Remove from heat and add the Parmesan cheese and serve.

1 Comment on Italian Sausage with Kale and Orecchiette

  1. Blair
    February 9, 2015 at 12:47 PM (8 years ago)

    I want all the sausage. Mmmm. Maybe I will actually get some pork at TJ’s tonight to make it happen!