Sausage and Kale Pasta

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Sausage and Kale Pasta
adapted from Taste of Home Cooking

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 lb bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed well (can omit if sausage already has fennel)
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 quart water or stock
  • 8 ounces small shaped pasta (medium shells and orecchiette both work well)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale, finely chopped
  • Grated parmesan, for serving

Method

Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sausage and saute until cooked through, stirring occasionally and breaking up the sausage as it browns, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in the garlic, basil, oregano, crushed fennel seed (if using), and red pepper flakes. Cook for another minute.

Pour the water (or stock) into the sausage mixture and bring to a boil. Be sure to scrape up the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan. Once the liquid is boiling, add the pasta. Cook, stirring every so often to prevent the pasta from sticking together or to the bottom of the pan, about 12 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed.

Stir the kale into sausage mixture until it wilts, about 1-2 minutes. Ladle pasta into bowls and top with grated parmesan.

NOTES

This was outstanding. I’ve always wanted to nail down a great sausage and kale pasta, but the only way I ever attempted it was with a tomato-based sauce. Ummm. Not so great. The minute I saw this one, though, I knew it was what I was looking for. This was utterly delicious in all its beautiful one-pot, few-ingredient simplicity. Even Steve, a hesitant kale fan, was demolishing this. I’m really happy to have this one for my archive!

Peppery Pinto Beans with Sausage

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Peppery Pinto Beans with Sausage
courtesy of The Homesick Texan

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or bacon grease
  • 1 pound smoked sausage or kielbasa, sliced into coins
  • 1 large sweet or yellow onion, diced
  • 3 large jalapenos, seeded, stemmed, and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • Sliced jalapenos, for serving

Method

Rinse and sort the beans. Place in a large pot or Dutch oven, cover with two inches of water, bring the pot to a boil then turn off the heat, cover the pot, and allow the beans to soak for an hour. After an hour when the beans have almost doubled in size, drain and rinse the beans and rinse the pot.

Place the pot back on the stove and heat the oil or bacon grease on medium heat. Add the sausage, and while occasionally stirring, cook until it just begins to crisp and some of the fat is rendered, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the onion and jalapenos and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Pour in the water and deglaze the pot, scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate any stuck bits.

Return the beans to the pot and add enough water to cover the beans by 1 inch, about 6 more cups. Stir in the cilantro, chili powder, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, black pepper, and salt, turn the heat up to high and bring the pot to a boil. Once it’s boiling, turn the heat down to low and then cook partially covered until tender, which can take anywhere from 2 hours to 3 1/2 hours, depending on the age of the beans.

Keep an eye on the beans as they cook, making sure the liquid doesn’t get too low (if it does, add about 1/4 cup more water to the pot) and gently stir every half hour or so. I also like to taste the broth after 1 1/2 hours and see if the seasonings need any adjusting. You’ll know they’re done when the broth is rich and brown with most of the vegetables dissolved, and the beans, of course, are tender.

When the beans are done to your satisfaction, taste again and adjust the seasonings. Serve the beans warm, topped with sliced jalapenos.

NOTES

A couple of weeks ago, my Timehop showed an entry from February 2014 in which I linked to this recipe post from The Homesick Texan and said “this is going on my list immediately!” And then I never made it. Whoops.

Well, thank goodness for Timehop, eh? Because going back to this one was an A+ decision. It was absolutely as good as I expected if not better. Spicy – but surprisingly, not too spicy – savory, proteiny goodness. Served with Fritos and cornbread for dinner, then with a fried egg on top for lunch the next day. This one will easily become a permanent fixture around here.

Skillet Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

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Skillet Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 12 to 14 ounces precooked andouille or other smoked sausage, sliced into 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick rounds
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 cup dry rice
  • 2 cups stock or water
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning (pre-made or you can make your own, see below)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced, for serving
  • Louisiana hot sauce, for serving

Method

Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat. Place chicken in the pan and brown for 2 to 3 minutes, until the chicken has given up a bit of its fat, and you can move the pieces around the pan. Cook for another 2 minutes, then add the sausage, and cook 2 minutes more.

Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and bay leaves. Saute 4 to 5 minutes, until vegetables are just soft. Stir in rice, stock or water, Cajun seasoning, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until rice is tender.

Remove bay leaves. Stir in chopped parsley. Serve over rice with chopped scallions and Louisiana hot sauce.

NOTES

This is the end result of a few years worth of tweaks to my “weeknight jambalaya.” Gone are the variety of odds and ends seasonings, replaced with Cajun seasoning blend, and gone are the tomatoes, replaced instead with a simple simmer in stock or water. This is how I like it for now, though I somehow imagine it will get changed again and again over the years (maybe add shrimp next?). I never really get tired of playing around with Cajun flavors!

To make your own Cajun seasoning, mix together:

  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 5 tablespoons paprika (I use half hot, half sweet)
  • 3 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

This makes enough for about eight recipes, so I make it in a big batch like this and store it in a glass jar or airtight container for future use.

Skillet Sausage, Beans, and Rice

Skillet Sausage, Beans, and Rice

Ingredients

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 12- to 14-ounce package kielbasa or smoked sausage (see notes)
1 medium sweet onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup white rice
2 cups stock or water
1 14.5-oz can pinto or kidney beans, drained and rinsed (see notes)
2 tablespoons dried herbs of your choice (see notes)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley or cilantro (see notes)

Method

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the kielbasa and onion; sauté until onions become soft and translucent (about 3 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add in the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds.

Stir in the rice, stock, beans, seasonings, and a dash of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20-22 minutes until rice is done.

Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley or cilantro. Serve immediately and enjoy!

NOTES

This is not a recipe, but a method.

First, I made the base recipe from my friend Amy at Very Culinary, with kielbasa, pinto beans, italian seasoning and parsley, topped with cracked red pepper. Then, knowing how our tastes run, I decided to try it with smoked pork-venison sausage, kidney beans, cajun seasoning, and parsley, topped with scallions and louisiana hot sauce. Tonight, I tried it with hatch chile smoked sausage, pinto beans, smoky honey habanero seasoning (plus cumin and mexican oregano), and cilantro, with fritos and chunky salsa on the side.

It all works. It’s all freaking delicious, not to mention super easy and quick. The perfect recipe!

Sausage, Potatoes, Peppers, and Onions Skillet

 

Sausage, Potatoes, Peppers, and Onions Skillet
slightly adapted from The Two Bite Club

Ingredients

2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil
salt and pepper
1.5 lb russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 (12- to 14-ounce) package smoked sausage or kielbasa, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 sweet onion, diced
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning (pre-made or you can make your own, see below)

Method

In a heavy bottomed skillet (cast iron if you’ve got it), heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Fry until golden brown and cooked through, around 10 minutes, stirring a few times to ensure even browning.

In a separate large, deep skillet, brown the sliced sausage for around 5 minutes in 1 teaspoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Remove the sausage from the pan and set aside. Add the peppers and onions to the skillet and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally. Add the Cajun seasoning and stir to combine.

Add the cooked potatoes and kielbasa to the skillet with the onions and peppers and mix everything together. Serve warm.

NOTES

Oof. This is everything you’d expect it to be… and so. damn. good. We like ours with eggs and toast for dinner and with Fritos for the lunch leftovers. Or you could just stand at the stove and eat it out of the skillet with a giant spoon. I won’t tell!

To make your own Cajun seasoning, mix together:

  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 5 tablespoons paprika (I use half hot, half sweet)
  • 3 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

This makes enough for about eight recipes, so I make it in a big batch like this and store it in a glass jar or airtight container for future use.

Sausage and Spinach Tortelloni

Sausage and Spinach Tortelloni

Ingredients

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 pound bulk Italian sausage (I use my homemade version)
1 medium sweet onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
pinch of red pepper flakes
8 ounces raw spinach, steamed and minced (yields about 5 ounces cooked; you can substitute frozen)
12 to 16 ounces refrigerated cheese tortelloni** (see note)

Method

Heat oil in large deep skillet over medium high heat. Add sausage and cook for 4 or 5 minutes, breaking the meat into chunks with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink. Add onion to the pan and saute until onion is soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another minute.

Add tomato sauce, water, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, and spinach and stir until well combined. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add tortelloni and cook for another 2 minutes, until heated through. Serve.

NOTES

This recipe was another happy accident. I was trying a new soup recipe from my friend Amy and though it called for tortellini, I bought the much larger tortelloni instead. I’m cheap, you see. The “ini” is $4-$5 for a 9-ounce bag, but Costco had a 3-pound bag of the “oni” for $10. I figured it would be fine – and it was, taste-wise, but not size-wise. Tortelloni is not soup spoon friendly.

So what to do with the rest of it? Make it into a one-pot pasta of course. This is very similar to my pasta bake in flavor and ingredients, and I love them both equally for different reasons. This dish… a bite of sausage, a piece of tortelloni with that savory cheese inside, spinach, herbs, and a light tomato sauce draped over everything. It’s perfect – and ready in 25 minutes. What could be better?

**As for the pasta: I got that 3-pound bag by luck, and split it into 1-pound portions, but I think the tortelloni is usually as expensive as its smaller counterpart and you are more likely to find it in 9-oz or 12-oz packages. A 12-oz portion should work fine in this recipe.

Sausage, Spinach and Pepperoni Pasta Bake

Sausage, Spinach, and Pepperoni Pasta Bake

Ingredients

8 ounces penne rigate
8 ounces Italian sausage
1 ounce pepperoni rounds, quartered
1/2 large sweet onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces spinach, steamed and finely chopped
4 ounces shredded mozzarella

Method

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add penne and cook 10 minutes, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water. Set aside.

In the meantime, heat large deep skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and pepperoni. Cook for 4 or 5 minutes, breaking the sausage into chunks with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink. Add onion and garlic to the pan and saute until onion is soft, about 4 minutes. Add tomato sauce, the reserved cup of pasta water (or 1 cup hot water), basil, oregano, salt, and spinach and stir until well combined. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to combine. Pour mixture into baking dish. Sprinkle mozzarella on top and toss through to mix, if desired.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Serve.

NOTES

This recipe was really a happy accident. A few months ago, I was trying to create something for the Saturdays Steve and I were hiking/working out on the deer lease, something that I could prep on Friday, store, then throw in the oven on Saturday when we got back. I happened very randomly to have a bag of pepperoni in the house and a small bag of mozzarella and thought this might be a good way to use them. And you know what? WE LOVED IT. We loved it so much I made it every weekend after for a couple of months. It is now a lifelong staple/favorite dinner. FYI: this probably serves four people, but after our 12-hour days working outdoors, we split this in two and devour it ourselves.

Also: I realize this is unusually light on the cheese for a baked pasta, but it is meant to be. I have a longtime recipe for lasagna (not posted) and one for hearty Baked Ziti, both with ricotta, parmesan, and loads of mozzarella, and we love them both, but this pasta bake is meant to be something different – and we absolutely love it just as it is. I hope you do too!