30 minute market pasta
My favorite kind of culinary research in Italy is obviously indulging at every local restaurant possible, but truthfully the only time I feel “at home” here is when I am cooking in our little apartment kitchen. Also, we’re trying not to go broke on this trip, and we’re not even 1/2 way through our adventure (WHAT!). So, I’ve been cooking a lot and happy to do so. It usually ends up being an all day ordeal that starts with a little online inspiration, a lot of time at the market, and careful and meticulous cooking in my very small kitchen. Because I have all the time in the world to myself here, and because I fricken LOVE grocery shopping, I usually spend a few hours wandering the neighborhood market or grocery store, looping the premises several times just in case I didn’t catch something the first time around. The grocery stores here are impressive, and almost everything is sourced from Italy, if not from right here in Tuscany. The markets are a whole different ballgame, and are all open daily, something I wish was a thing in the US.
Some days, I want to spend the entire afternoon cooking (stay tuned for a knock your socks off bolognese recipe), and other times, I just want dinner to magically appear. I whipped up this pasta after a day that I spent way too long playing at Mercato Centrale. At home in the US, our dinners are usually pretty healthy- proteins and veggies are the bulk of our meals. In Italy, we’re on a baguette a day diet, with some sort of pasta thrown in to at least one of our meals. I have no apologies or regrets for this new lifestyle because, “when in Rome!” (it still counts to use that phrase anywhere in Italy, right?)
This “30 minute Tuscan pasta” was inspired by, obviously, the wonderful ingredients I have at my disposal here. At the market, the Italian Sausage is simply salsiccia, and the Tuscan Kale (which has many names back home: dinosaur kale, black kale, Lacinato kale) is cavolo. It should be easy to find all of these ingredients at your local grocery store, and as far as the pasta choice, I am blessed with fresh pasta of every shape and size. For this recipe, use what you have in your cupboard, or find your favorite shape. I love orecchiette.
And, if you’re curious about the salad we ate with this meal: Arugula & watercress, shaved pecorino, pink lady apples, and some pistachios. I drizzled olive oil and balsamic over the top and called it a day. The balsamic is Giuseppe Giusti, the brand I learned about at Taste of Firenze!
Italian Sausage and Kale Pasta
- 1 package Pasta I like orecchiette
- 1 bu Tuscan kale
- 2 cups Mushrooms I used oyster
- 1/4 lb Italian sausage
- 1/2 ea Lemon
- 2 tbsp Parmesan parmigiano reggiano preferably
- 1 tsp Garlic
- 1 tbsp Parsley
- 1 tbsp Basil
- 1/2 tsp Crushed red pepper
Get your pasta water on, and make sure there's plenty of salt in that water. It should taste like the ocean. While waiting for your water to boil, get your other ingredients ready: take the stem off your kale and cut into big chunks, get your mushrooms ready (oyster mushrooms just require a quick chop at the end and a few tears for the big pieces).Tear your basil into big pieces, rough chop the parsley, and mince the garlic
Cook your pasta al dente, and save about 1/4c of the pasta water. This is the secret to well coated and flavorful pasta dishes!
Brown your sausage in a skillet, set sausage aside and use the oil from your sausage to brown the mushrooms at medium/high heat. If there is not enough fat, put a little oil or butter in your pan to help them get nice and caramelized. Don't forget the salt!
When your mushrooms are 90% cooked, throw in the kale and let it join the party. Add the garlic, sauté 30 seconds. Add the pasta and the sausage back in.
All of the main ingredients are now in the skillet, and now we just need to make it all sing together. On low heat, add a splash of the leftover pasta water and a squeeze of lemon and scrape any of the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Take the pasta off the heat and add the red pepper flakes, grated parmesan, and fresh herbs. Give it all a quick stir and there should be a nice, light sauce coating your pasta.
I topped my pasta with more parmesan and some leftover pesto I had in the fridge. The pesto is definitely not necessary, and personally I prefer mine without it. I like the simplicity of sauce that this pasta dish creates on its own.