Cheese / Comfort Food / Fall Recipes / Italian Food / Pasta / Pork / See Hatsie Cook / Weeknight Meals

Cook: Rigatoni with Sausage, Kale and Pine Nuts

I’ve been wanting to jump on the Kale bandwagon for a while now.  Everyone seems to be cooking with it lately but I can’t seem to get it out of my head that it was the green thing on the side of my chicken strips that my mom always said not to eat when I was a kid.  But apparently kale is having, or has been having, quite the revival as of late, and I figured I’d better check it out.  Pasta, clearly, was the answer.  And sausage.  And pine nuts.  And cheese.  

This pasta was flavorful and hearty.  It wasn’t too heavy because the sauce was light and the crunch and nuttiness of the pine nuts really added extra depth.

And here are my thoughts on kale: I liked it!  The texture took some getting used to, it was much tougher than say spinach or arugula, an the flavor was stronger, but it held up nicely to the spicy sausage and pine nuts.

All in all, kale in this dish was good.  I think it needs some strong flavors to balance it out, in my opinion, but I’m glad I found a new green that I like.  It’s super healthy too.  Next up: kale chips.  Except I have no idea how one makes those.  Crispy, crunchy greens?  I’m in.

Here’s the recipe:

Rigatoni with Sausage, Kale and Pine Nuts (serves 4)


  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 lb spicy ground Italian sausage (or sausage links with the casings removed)
  • 1 bunch of kale, washed, with the tough stems removed, and then chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1.75 ounce jar of pine nuts (I used Alessi)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the rigatoni according to package instructions, to al dente.  Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water then drain.
  2. Meanwhile, add two tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add onion and cook for 4 minutes, until soft but not brown.
  3. Add sausage and cook until browned, about 7-8 minutes.
  4. Add chopped kale to skillet and cover until wilted.  You may have to do this in batches so you don’t have a kale overflow situation.  Season with salt and pepper and reduce heat to low.
  5. While that is cooking, toast pine nuts in a dry pan until golden brown.   Watch the pine nuts.  They will burn.  Believe me.
  6. When the pasta is finished, drain and return to the pot.  Add the sausage and kale mixture and toss to combine.  Add the remaining olive oil and a splash of the pasta water and toss constantly for at least 1 minute, until a light sauce is formed.  Top with toasted pine nuts and toss to combine.
  7. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of extra olive oil if needed.  (I thought it was needed, but that’s just me)

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