Orecchiette with Sausage and Kale

It recently came to my attention that the majority of people who enjoy making kale salads at home dispose of the leafy green stems, assuming they’re inedible. At a recent dinner party I witnessed just this, gasping as my host threw a pile of perfectly fine kale stems into the garbage. I’m a huge hater of food waste, so spent the next hour chatting at the table about all the wonderful ways we can maximize our groceries when cooking in the kitchen.

Kale is a bitter green and can often be swapped out in recipes that call for broccoli or rapini. One of my favourite recipes that features bitter greens is this classic rift on a popular pasta dish from Italy’s Puglia region. Orecchiette, is a distinct pasta from southeastern Italy that are shaped roughly like ears, hence the translation “little ears.” Puglia’s signature dish is orecchiette with broccoli raab, though in North America many Italian restaurant menus add sausage (winning!)

In this rendition of the classic I’ve swapped out broccoli for kale stems. A perfect way to reduce food waste in the kitchen while delighting guests with a truly heartwarming bowl of pasta.


1 lb orecchiette

5 Tbsp olive oil

1 lb spicy chorizo sausage, removed from casings

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup chicken broth

2 cups kale stems and leaves

3 Tbsp butter

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add orecchiette and cook until al dente.

In a medium frying pan add a tablespoon of olive oil and kale stems, cooking over medium heat for 2 minutes. Cover with a lid and reduce heat to low, slowly cooking the stems so they soften for approximately 8 minutes. The kale stems are finished cooking once they are tender but still offer a crunch when bitten into.

In a large skillet, crumble sausage into the pan and cook, breaking apart with a wooden spoon or spatula, until lightly browned. Reduce the heat and add the garlic, cook for another minute.

Add the remaining olive oil, chicken broth, kale, and butter. Stir frequently for 4-5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan until the sauce reduces slightly.

Drain pasta well and add to your sausage and kale skillet. Toss to incorporate. Add half of the grated cheese and stir until melted. Transfer to a large bowl and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

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