Rigatoni with Sausage and Kale is a healthy and flavorful pasta recipe. Read on for details on how to prepare the dish as well as some wine pairing suggestions. Click here to jump directly to the recipe.
Pasta and sausage are natural partners. If you are wondering what cook with pasta and sausage, we find kale to be a healthy and tasty option that we wind up cooking again and again. Today we are updating our basic Rigatoni with Sausage and Kale recipe with some new photos and instructions. We first posted this recipe back in 2012; the fact that we are still making it regularly four years later shows it has stood the test of time!
You can use other pasta shapes, but I think rigatoni is the best pasta shape to cook with sausage. The short, thick rigatoni is a substantial pasta to go along with hearty sausage. The simple kale based sauce clings nicely to the rigatoni, another reason it is a good choice for this recipe.
The key to cooking kale for a pasta recipe like this is to braise the kale, a technique I first learned from this Food & Wine recipe. First you brown the sausages in the skillet and set them aside. Then sauté some onions in the skillet, and get them nice and soft, before adding garlic. The kale gets added next, in a few batches. This Rigatoni with Sausage and Kale recipe is made without tomatoes; in this version we use some white wine as the braising liquid. You can also use chicken stock instead of wine in this recipe. If you want to use some tomatoes for braising the kale, you can follow this recipe here.
How can you make this pasta and sausage recipe even healthier? I originally made this recipe with pork sausage, and it is certainly very tasty that way. This recipe already has some good nutrition from the kale, but if you want to make it even healthier, you can easily use turkey sausage instead of pork sausage. The andouille turkey sausage has good flavor, and reduces the fat and calorie count substantially.
So you’ve worked hard to make this pasta dish, you might ask what wine goes with Rigatoni with Sausage and Kale? We’ve got you covered on that front, too!
Wine Pairing for Rigatoni with Sausage and Kale
This rigatoni with sausage and kale recipe can be paired with a red wine or a white wine, depending on your inclinations. The first time we made this dish, we paired it with a Bonny Doon Vineyards Contra, a red California field blend comprised of Carignan, Grenache and Mourvedre. When you pair this dish with a red, you are pairing to the sausage in particular.
When we made this recipe most recently, we were getting ready for National Chardonnay Day, coming up on May 21, 2016. We opened a bottle of 2014 Hahn Chardonnay ($15, 14.5%), which was sent as a complimentary sample for Chard Day. The grapes are from Monterey County.
I got peach blossoms on the nose of the Hahn Chardonnay. On the palate, ripe pear fruit, and some melon. There’s a bit of flint in the background, and some subtle butteriness. I would say the Chardonnay is a good pairing for the dish. If you are going for a white wine with rigatoni with sausage and kale, it needs to be full bodied to stand up to the sausage. If you want to try a white other than chard, a Rhone style blend with some combination of Roussanne, Clairette or Marsanne could work well here.
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 small andouille sausages, use turkey sausage for a lighter version of the dish
- 1 bunch kale, thick stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
- ½ cup white wine
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- pinch red pepper (optional)
- ½ cup feta cheese
- 12 ozs rigatoni or other short pasta shape
- 6 to 8 olives, sliced
- Extra 2 tbsp olive oil to finish
- salt and pepper to taste
- Coat a large skillet with oil spray, and heat to medium high. Add the sausage to the pan, cook about 5 minutes, turning occasionally to brown the sausage. Remove the sausage and set aside for later.
- Add 2 tbsp olive oil in the skillet, then stir in onions. Sauté the onions 10 minutes until they have softened and begun to caramelize. Add the garlic, cook for another minute.
- Start boiling water for the pasta at this time.
- Stir the kale into the skillet, doing so in a few batches. The kale is high volume to start but will cook down quickly. Add the wine, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Cover the skillet, and cook the greens for 10 minutes on medium low.
- Cut the sausage into thin slices, then stir into the skillet after the kale has cooked for 10 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar at this time, too. Cook another 10 minutes, covered.
- Start cooking the pasta around the same time you add the sausage to the pan, and cook according to package instructions.
- Drain the pasta when done. Toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, then stir in the sausage and kale mixture, followed by the feta cheese and olives. Serve and enjoy!
Full disclosure: As noted earlier, I received a complimentary sample of the Hahn Chardonnay from the winery. As always, the opinions expressed here are entirely my own, and I only recommend products that I have enjoyed.