dinner · pasta · pork

Rigatoni with Sausage and Collard Greens

I was on a mission.

A mission from the food Gods. A mission of culinary extremes. A mission above all missions.

I was set and ready to go wherever my wheels would take me…to get Swiss chard?

Yes.

Swiss chard.

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For whatever reason, that task was seemingly impossible. Chard has disappeared from the lavish mist of the produce section and my heart. Is it not in season? Is it selling poorly? Where, oh where, did that leafy green go?

Come hell or high water, I was going to find it. My mind was set. I needed it for this pasta recipe, you see, and I wasn’t going to make it without chard.

Three stores miles apart and an empty basket later, I finally gave up. I don’t normally quit like this, but I guess it just wasn’t mean to be. And within seconds of realizing that, I figured it out.

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Adaptation in the kitchen is a good thing. Heck, we’ve been doing it for centuries. People used to grow their own food and cook it for hours. Now, we’ve got fancy baking dishes and nuclear-powered cooking machines. You can even buy frozen, pre-chopped onions at the grocery store! No need to chop them up while wiping tears away anymore.

We’re constantly evolving and adapting recipes and meals and making them easier on our lives. Americans, on average, spend just 27 minutes cooking dinner now as opposed to 60 minutes in 1965. That means you should never stick to the strict instructions on a recipe, you should make it yours and make it easier, faster, and better.

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So, that’s what I had to do. I wiped away the pipe dream that was Swiss chard, and started looking for a leafy green replacement. Kale kind of bugs me nowadays since it’s so popular, so I shrugged that off. Spinach is too unimpressive.

My eyes scanned the produce shelves and landed on a bag of chopped collard greens. Bingo.

Collards are tangy, sour and crunchy bunches of nutritious goodness. Those greens stepped up to the plate like a bench player called in when the star player gets injured. It worked! The collard greens were amazing in this recipe.

But hey, if you can’t find them, adapt. Use a different green. Make it your own. That’s what we’ve been doing for centuries. 

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Rigatoni with Sausage and Collard Greens

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Creamy and spicy rigatoni with Italian sausage, bell peppers, and collard greens.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. rigatoni
  • 2 TBS. olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground Italian sausage
  • 4 TBS. butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 cups chopped collard greens
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 TBS. plus 1 tsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cup milk
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 TBS. grated lemon zest

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add rigatoni and cook according to package instructions, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water.
  2. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven or large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add sausage to oil and cook, breaking up with a slotted spoon, until browned. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Melt butter in same pan. Add garlic and bell peppers, saute for 2-3 minutes until slightly soft and fragrant. Add greens and toss, cooking until wilted, about 5-6 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle in flour and stir for 1 minute. Stir in milk slowly and add salt, pepper, and Parmesan. Add sausage back to pan and stir in red pepper flakes and lemon zest.
  5. Add pasta to pan and toss until pasta is well coated with sauce and mingles with meat and greens, adding any pasta water to loosen.

Step-By-Step Instructions

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Cook pasta. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven or large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add sausage to oil and cook, breaking up with a slotted spoon, until browned. Transfer to a bowl.

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Melt butter in same pan. Add garlic and bell peppers, saute for 2-3 minutes until slightly soft and fragrant.

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Add greens and toss, cooking until wilted, about 5-6 minutes.

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Sprinkle in flour and stir for 1 minute. Stir in milk slowly and add salt, pepper, and Parmesan.

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Add sausage back to pan and stir in red pepper flakes and lemon zest.

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Add pasta to pan and toss until pasta is well coated with sauce and mingles with meat and greens, adding any pasta water to loosen.

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