Baked Pasta with Sweet Italian Sausage & Kale

Kale is a nutritional superfood. It should have it’s own cape! It has
antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer nutrients to name a few. On the downside, it has a large concentration of Vitamin K, which can be a problem for people taking blood thinners because it promotes clotting; the green also contains oxalates, which in lab tests have been associated with kidney stones and some gallstones. Eat raw kale is not a good idea, it will result in digestive issues.

This recipe is a great way to introduce some kale into your family’s diet. Everyone loved it.

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Baked Pasta with Sweet Italian Sausage & Kale

Serves 6

1 lb penne or other short pasta
1 medium (about 1 lb) bunch kale, stems discarded and leaves cut into 2-inch pieces
3 Tbs olive oil
1 package (20 oz) turkey Italian sausage, casings removed
1 onion, chopped
Kosher salt
Pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 Tbs flour
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup part-skim mozzarella, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook the pasta according to package directions, adding the kale during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain the pasta and kale and return it to the pot.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until beginning to brown, 5 to 6 minutes; transfer to a bowl.

Add the onion and remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the skillet, season with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Sprinkle the flour over the onion mixture and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stirring constantly, gradually add the milk. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes; stir in the crushed red pepper.

Add the sauce to the pasta and kale and toss to coat. Add the sausage, tomatoes, ricotta and mozzarella and toss to combine. Transfer the pasta mixture to a 3-quart or 9- by 13-inch casserole dish. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and bake until heated through and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

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