Orecchiette with Sausage & Kale Pesto
Today was a beautiful Fall day for a walk. I’ve been waiting for our Indian Summer, and I think we got a taste this afternoon. Let’s see what happens the next few days, because it looks like Thursday’s and Friday’s temperatures will climb up to a warm 22 C (71 F) and 18 C (64 F). There’s our Indian Summer…!
One of our favourite places to walk to is this little pond near our home. There are a few private homes that back in to the water – how gorgeous! I can only dream of someday, maybe, living here along the banks. That day may never happen, I know. So, we are here just to watch and admire. We are waiting for the foliage to turn 50 shades of crimson and gold.
We made a pit stop at our community park, where there’s a huge playground with wooden castles, slides, and swings. Naturally, as the days get cooler and cooler, the playground is looking emptier. But the kids and I quite like this – when we have the whole place to ourselves to run around…
It’s so sad that earlier this year (March 2012), one bored 19-year-old boy set the big castle on fire at 3 a.m. (see photos below. Photo credits and article here) It seems like such an evil, malicious deed. Why would one want to destroy a place where children feel a sense of joy, comfort, and friendship?
But with the help of local business Canadian Tire, contractor-and-TV-personality Mike Holmes, and the community, the big castle was rebuilt just in time for the summer. Mike Holmes’ HGTV show, Holmes Makes It Right, aired the “Building Castles” episode today, which showed the reconstruction project. The new castle is the giant “blonde” wooden structure at the far end…
After our day at the park, we stopped by a local farmers’ market to pick up some seasonal produce, like this Tuscan kale. Also known as black kale, Italian kale, dinosaur kale, or cavolo nero, this wrinkly-textured leafy plant has a mild flavour that lends well to salads and pestos.
Tuscan kale, according to drweil.com, “is extraordinarily nutritious: a cup provides more than 100 percent of the daily value (DV) of vitamins K and A, and 88 percent of the DV for vitamin C. Like other members of the brassica family such as cabbage, collards and Brussels sprouts, kale is a rich source of organosulfur compounds that have been linked to cancer prevention.” More of its benefits here. So, eat up!
To bump up the nutritional value of my Tuscan kale pesto, I added omega-rich walnuts to it (optional). I used orecchiette (little ears) pasta so that the gentle curves will catch just the right amount of pesto and crumbled sausages.
We love this pasta hot, but we have no problem eating it at room temperature. Which means, it is great for packing – for picnics and school lunches! Also, it tastes a lot better on the second day, when all the flavours meld into each other.
So, the kids and I sat by one of the ponds near our home, and we picked on our “little ears” until there were none left. I looked around, then I looked at all three of them – my kids. I can’t believe I have three! I am grateful for each and every day that we do not go hungry. And I am truly fortunate to have a home in a beautiful neighbourhood, and that I have a steady income to pay down my mortgage. I cannot imagine living elsewhere in the city that’s as green and lush and natural as where we are now, without being far from the action. We want to grow old here.
What about you, dear readers? Do you love living where you are? Have you tried Tuscan kale before?
- 3 cups (85 g) Tuscan kale, blanched*
- 1 cup (30 g) fresh basil
- 4 garlic cloves, whole
- ¼ cup pine nuts or walnuts
- ½ cup (45 g) Pecorino Romano cheese
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound (454 g) orecchiette pasta
- 4 sausage links, casings removed
- 4 tablespoons dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or Chardonnay
- Bring a pot of water to boil over high heat. Prepare another bowl full of ice for the ice bath.
- Cut off the tough stems from the Tuscan kale. And pick the basil leaves from the stems, discarding any that are damaged.
- When water is boiling, add the Tuscan kale and blanch for 15 seconds. Remove and plunge in the ice bath for 15 seconds and drain in a colander. Roughly chop the kale.
- Next, add the basil leaves in the boiling water for 5 seconds, until wilted. Scoop out and drain in a sieve. When cool enough to handle, squeeze dry and set aside.
- Cut each garlic clove in half and plunge in boiling water for 15 seconds, then transfer to the ice bath to cool.
- Put the kale, basil, nuts, garlic, cheese, and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor and purée until smooth.
- Transfer into containers for storage. Will keep well in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
- To make pasta, bring a large pot of water to boil and season with salt. Add the orecchiete pasta and cook for about 8 to 11 minutes, or according to package directions.
- Reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta.
- Wipe the same pot clean and heat on medium high. Add a little bit of olive oil to the pan.
- When oil is hot, add the sausages, crumble with a wooden spoon, and cook until browned all over.
- Add 2 scant cups of the pesto and stir. Immediately add 4 tablespoons of white wine and cook until the alcohol has evaporated, about 1 to 2 minutes. Then, add half the reserved cooking water (about ½ cup) to loosen the pesto. Stir well.
- Put the pasta back into the pot and toss until well-combined, adding more pasta water if needed.