Pappardelle with Lentils, Sausage, and Kale

Pappardelle with lentils, kale, and sausage     

If Yancey and I had kept stats on our fights over our 14-year marriage, most of the pie chart would be taken up with "fights because Sarah was hungry."  I don't know if I technically have low blood sugar, but anecdotally, I do.  Famously so. We argue about the dumbest things while I'm trying to get dinner on the table.  When we finally sit down and the wine is poured, all of the sudden I become congenial and chatty and actually care about what happened during Yancey's day.  Sometimes we think this is funny and other times we don't. Often I can't rise above everyday annoyances because, as Yancey says, I'm in them. Rising above seems mostly to happen later. After the kids are in bed.  If you've got more zen than I do, please send it through the miles.

So last night while I was making this pasta, I couldn't really focus on how lucky I was to be in my kitchen about to eat with my family because I was too hungry.  Yancey's been getting home at 7:00, and since I'm on a kid schedule, that means I've eaten lunch at 11:00.  And lately, mostly thanks to this blog, I've been forgetting to snack.  You KNOW something's up when that happens.

But once we sat down, I was thankful, and I'm thankful all over again remembering how good this pasta was. I hope it's alright with you that I don't have a problem tooting my own culinary horn.  All my other shortcomings even things out, believe me.  Though Emily says I shouldn't too too self-deprecating here.  I told her my goal was to be the Anne Lamott of food writing.  Anne doesn't really do anything too exciting in her life. She just makes fun of herself and writes about donuts and sleeping in and she's sold millions of books.  That's a compliment, Ms. Lamott.

If you don't like dark, leafy greens, you are SOL on this blog lately.  Because this pasta features another one. Imagine an announcer's voice, like that red-haired guy on Letterman.   And tonight, it's BLAAAACK D-I-N-O KALE!!!  It's lusciously textured, and looks like this:



It's not actually black, but it's so much darker than curly or red kale that it's black by comparison.  I got it at my nearest PCC (Seward Park) and they often have it.  I sauteed it down with lots of garlic and olive oil (surprise), found some dried pappardelle from Trader Joe's in my cupboard, and am still trucking along with my big jar of lentils.

I worry about it boring you (so I don't list this every time) but, if I were reading this recipe on someone else's blog, here are the options/substitutions/opinions that would run through my mind:

  • I don't have sausage, so I'm leaving it out.
  • There's no way I'm going to PCC for triceratops kale or whatever that is.  I'll use spinach instead.
  • Like I have time to cook lentils.  I'm going to use those pre-cooked kind they sell at Trader Joe's.
  • All I want is the greens, pasta, and garlic.
  • All I have is penne, so I'm using that instead.
  • Why does she have ricotta salata around?  What is that anyway?  I'm using parmesan instead.

This would be a perfectly acceptable conversation to have with this recipe.  I encourage it.  Any pasta recipe in the world is just a combination that someone happened upon and decided to share, and the combinations are so utterly endless.  And of course, if you happen upon one you're excited about, I want to hear about it.

Pappardelle with Lentils, Sausage, and Kale
(serves 4)

8 oz. pappardelle (broad, flat egg noodles--I broke mine into smaller pieces) 0r other dried pasta
3 c. cooked lentils (cook 2 c. dried lentils in lots of boiling water for about 25 minutes and drain)
1 big bunch coarsely chopped and de-ribbed dino kale or other leafy green (kale, chard, spinach, broccoli raab)
4 cloves garlic, minced
couple big glugs olive oil
1 lb. cooked Italian sausage
1 c. ricotta salata or feta, cubed
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes
chopped fresh oregano (optional.  I have it coming out my ears)

Cook pasta in a big pot of boiling water and brown sausage in a skillet.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in another big skillet.  Add kale and garlic and saute until wilted and tender, about 10 minutes.  Salt to taste.

Drain pasta.  Add pasta, lentils, sausage, and ricotta salata to kale mixture in the skillet and toss gently.  Salt and pepper to taste and add lemon juice.  Serve with more cheese, red pepper flakes, and fresh oregano on top.