Sunday Supper Idea: Sausage, Cheese and Kale Casserole

By Lia

This time of year – with its cold, shortened days and sad prospect of no holidays on the horizon – always screams EAT COMFORT FOOD to me. If you’re going to spend your nights cold and locked up indoors, you want something warm and yummy to help ease the pain…at least a little bit.

I recently discovered PunchFork.com and have been dying to try some of the amazing looking recipes on the site. I found a great looking photo of a cheesy, sausage and pasta bake compliments of FoodRepublic.com and immediately knew we had a winner.

The only thing about this recipe is that it took me nearly two hours to make, not the 1 hour, 20 minutes that the original instructions provided. Whether this is because I’m a slow cooker or not, I’m not sure…but I would just leave a little more time than less; which is why I suggest maybe this be cooked on a Sunday. This should easily feed four to six people as well, so great for a family or for plenty of leftovers if you’re working with less than that.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch kale, washed thoroughly and roughly chopped
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 1 32-ounce container ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup good-quality parmesan, coarsely grated
  • 8 ounces mozzarella, shredded
  • coarse salt and ground pepper, to taste (for the record, I didn’t use these but will leave them here just in case)
And here’s what you do:
Step 1: In a large skillet, brown the sausage over medium-high heat until just cooked through, then remove to a layer of paper towels to drain using a slotted spoon. I’ve never removed sausage from its casing. It was kind of gross to look at the casings there on the left, but sausage is so delicious I quickly got over it. All I did was slide the knife right under the casing and then smoothly go across. Then, I just let the sausage roll out so the casing came off in a little sheet.
Step 2: The original recipe called for the skillet to be drained, but I had just a little grease from the sausage, so I kept it in for flavor. Add your olive oil and heat  over medium. Toss in the onions and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Step 3: Add the kale and tomatoes, bring to a simmer and cook until wilted, about 10 minutes, then remove from heat. I had to add the kale in two rounds because I guess my skillet is not as huge as needed!
Step 4: Start boiling the water for the pasta and cook according to directions. Drain and return to pot. Preheat oven to 375F.
Step 5: In a large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, half the Parmesan and half the mozzarella. Add kale and the sausage and mix thoroughly. This is when things finally start looking good!
Step 6: Combine ricotta/sausage/kale with the pasta in the pot, then transfer to a large casserole dish.
Step 7: Evenly sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan over the top, then bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until top is brown and crisp. Here is the finished product! Super yummy.
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