baked pasta with Italian sausage, kale, and red pepper.

December 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

I have been excited to share this dish!  Say hello to my new favorite recipe:

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I first made this recipe at 9pm on a weeknight.  That type of spontaneous cooking never really works out too well for me—suddenly I’m exhausted, mid-way through a recipe, and my kitchen is a mess.  But, this pasta bake came together really quickly and was delicious!  I have re-made it several times since then, and I can already tell it will become a staple recipe in my house.  Also, it’s hearty and has a spicy kick, which means it’s definitely boyfriend approved!  Leftovers keep well in the fridge up to a week and reheat nicely for lunches at work.

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I find I particularly love kale—a super food!—when it’s cooked into a creamy, spicy pasta bake with browned Italian sausage.  We have to get our greens in somehow!

Plus this dish is creamy and decadent, without actually involving any cream or much butter.  Healthy comfort food is where it’s at.

Note: A key ingredient for this recipe is chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  These peppers can be found in the Mexican section of the grocery store, in a small can.

peppers

I am a wimp when it comes to spice, but found that the called for two peppers in sauce provided just enough heat without being overwhelming.  If you are worried about the spice, use one pepper instead of two.  Taste the sauce first and if you want it to be more spicy, add another pepper.

Adapted from Bev Cooks

What you need:

  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 bunch of kale, chopped
  • 1 box whole grain elbow macaroni (used 13.25 oz. box of Barilla)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 and ½ cups milk (used skim)
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 8 oz. low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

You will want to use your largest skillet for this recipe.  Heat the skillet over medium.  Add your Italian sausage and cook until browned.  Remove sausage from skillet and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.  Return sausage to skillet and add the diced red pepper and chopped kale.  Saute for 3-5 minutes.  Kale will begin to wilt.  Sprinkle with small amount of sea salt.

While the sausage, kale, and red pepper mix is sautéing, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add pasta, and cook per package instructions.

Once pasta is cooked and drained, add the pasta to the sausage, kale, and red pepper mixture.  Toss to combine well.

Let the mixture sit on low heat while you prepare your spicy sauce.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan.  Once butter is melted, add the flour.  Whisk for several minutes, until the flour is completely worked into the butter.  Add the milk and continue to whisk until sauce takes on a creamy consistency—approximately 5 minutes.

Transfer the sauce into a blender.  Add one or two chipotle peppers (do not rinse; keep sauce on the peppers) and pulse.  Now is the time to taste the sauce and decide whether you want it to be more spicy.  If so, add another pepper and continue to blend.

Pour the cream sauce over the pasta, sausage, kale, and red pepper mixture, and toss to combine.

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Transfer the pasta mixture into a baking dish.  I used a 9 by 13 glass dish.  Cover the pasta with the shredded mozzarella.

Bake the pasta for 30 minutes uncovered; cheese should be browning.

Let pasta sit for several minutes before serving.

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So, so yummy.

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