Sausage and Kale Two Ways: Pizza and Pasta
This post is all about helping you save some time. Don’t you just love cooking something once and using it in twice? Like making a roast chicken for dinner and then using the leftover meat to make chicken quesadillas the next day. If you can, why not? Spending a little less time worrying about meal-planning is always a good thing, and it’s kind of like eating leftovers without feeling like you are.
Well today is all about sausage and kale two ways:
on a pizza…
and in a pasta.
Whenever I don’t feel like thinking about what to cook, I automatically fall back on hot Italian sausage and kale. Something magical happens when you combine these two love birds together. If you’re not sure how to cook with kale, don’t fret my pet, it’s super easy. Just cut off and discard the hard stems. Use the leafy parts only.
The best advice I can give you is to treat it like spinach. Give the leaves a quick chop, and then basically add it to anything. And just like spinach, it looks like you have a lot, but as it cooks, it shrinks down to practically nothing, so use more than you think.
Then look for a package of hot Italian sausage without the casing. It will look like regular ground pork, except it’s seasoned with all that good spicy sausage flavor. This is my new obsession. But if you can’t find it, just buy a package of hot Italian sausage links (1 lb), and remove the meat from the casings.
You treat it like how you would any ground meat, except you don’t have to add any additional seasonings or oil to it. Throw the meat in a large dry pan. The sausage is fatty enough and will render its own flavorful drippings as it cooks.
When it’s just about cooked through, add the kale. You might think you have a kale mountain in your pan at first.
But you will soon see that it quickly shrinks away to nothing. You can add a little salt to your kale if you want, but you probably don’t have to. And that’s about it.
Now let’s make our pizza first. Get a pre-made pizza crust. Some brands come with its own package of pizza sauce. Bonus! But if not, grab a jar of marinara. Then all you need is shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheese. If you’re using fresh or homemade dough, you might want to bake off the crust a little bit first after you roll it out, and before you add the toppings. Since the kale is already cooked, if you throw it in the oven for too long, it will burn and turn into kale chips.
So use your trusty spatula to part the sausage and kale sea. Save HALF of your mixture to make pasta on another day. That’s right. You only really need a ½ pound of sausage and a ½ bunch of kale to make one pizza. But why not cook off the whole thing off while you’re at it? Saves you some cooking time later.
Or obviously, you can always just make 2 pizzas at one time- ain’t nothing wrong with that!
Add your marinara, mozzarella, and sausage and kale mixture. I like to put a little extra mozzarella on top of the sausage and kale, but you don’t have to. Then finish with a nice sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top. That will add extra oomph to the overall taste of your pizza.
Bake in a 400- 450F degree oven until the crust is crispy and the cheese is gooey. Follow your package instructions. But like I mentioned above, if you bake it for too long, the kale will become crispy crunch city, which is good if you’re purposely baking kale chips, but otherwise, no bueno.
Pull it out piping hot and go at it with a pizza cutter.
And that’s all there is to say about that.
Now it’s the next day. Let’s go ahead and make some pasta, okay?
In this case, I used whole grain penne pasta, and I really like this combination. It’s healthier, but also slightly nutty with great hearty texture. Then you just grab some half and half and paprika.
You pull out your bowl of reserved sausage and kale mixture from the fridge. Remember, you saved half of what you cooked in the pan yesterday. Since it’s already cooked, all you have to do is throw it in a pan to heat it up. Add a few dashes of paprika and a little half and half, just eyeball how much you want. Start with a ⅓ cup first and add more if you want.
Boil your pasta until it’s al dente, and then add it to your sauce.
So in this case, a ½ pound of sausage, and a ½ pound of kale makes enough sauce for a ½ lb of pasta (½ a box). Add your cooked pasta, along with a small ladle full of starchy salted pasta cooking water. I tossed in some frozen peas to add a bit more “green,” but you don’t have to. Toss and season everything together with additional salt and pepper if you need it, and top with Parmesan cheese.
Boo-yah. Meal #2.
So next time you’re feeling uninspired at the grocery store, you can pick up some hot Italian sausage and kale and remember that you have at least two easy recipe ideas under your belt.