Pasta with Spicy Sausage, Ricotta, Golden Raisins, and Pine Nuts
Recipe Servings: 4 portions
Recipe Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Recipe Cook Time: 60 minutes
2 bunches cavolo nero (also known as black, dinosaur, or Tuscan kale)
6 tbsp Lucini extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced small (2 cups)
6 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced (2 tablespoons)
2 (6-inch) fresh rosemary sprigs, bruised with your fingers
½ teaspoon ground fennel seed
½ pound fresh spicy Italian sausage (pork or turkey), removed from casing
½ cup golden raisins
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained, preferably fire-roasted
1¼ cup vegetable or chicken stock
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp Lucini Pinot Noir Artisan Wine Vinegar
2 tbsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 ounces gemelli or penne pasta (we recommend Delverde)
2 cups ricotta salata, crumbled, or freshly grated Pecorino Romano
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, not pre-grated, for serving
⅓ cup toasted pine nuts, for serving
Strip the tender leaves from the tough stems of the kale; discard the stems. Rinse the leaves, then chop finely.
Combine 4 tablespoons of olive oil and the onions in a small pot over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally for approximately 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.
Add the garlic, rosemary, and ground fennel, stir to combine, and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
Add the sausage to the pot. Cook for approximately 7 to 8 minutes until the sausage has browned, breaking up the sausage into small pieces with the back of a wooden spoon as it cooks. Add the chopped kale, golden raisins, drained diced tomatoes, and stock to the sausage mixture and stir to combine.
Turn the heat to high to bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low to continue simmering and cover with a lid. Continue simmering until the kale is soft, and less than a third of the liquid remains, 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the rosemary sprigs, stir in the lemon juice and vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.
Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente (almost done, or "to the tooth").
Drain the pasta without rinsing, then immediately return it to the pot. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pasta and stir to coat. Add the pasta to the warm sausage-kale mixture, gently stir together and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve in shallow pasta bowls, topped with the ricotta salata or Pecorino Romano. If using ricotta salata, shave some Parmigiano-Reggiano over each serving with a vegetable peeler. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and the toasted pine nuts.
Chef Nathan Lyon is known to television viewers across the country for his simple, innovative cuisine featuring fresh, seasonal, local ingredients. Nathan recently (December 2011) came out with his very first cookbook, Great Food Starts Fresh, which has been quoted by Alice Waters and Graham Kerr, in addition to other esteemed chefs. Great Food Starts Fresh is a seasonal cookbook featuring 135 recipes broken down into the 5 seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter, and... chocolate!