Thanks for this recipe David, and for all the notes!

  • 2 bunches kale (or broccoli rabe, or similar strong greens)
  • 1 large red pepper or 2 small ones, sliced lengthwise into very thin ribbons.
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 small onion or half a large one, chopped
  • 1 large tomato or 2 small ones, chopped
  • 1 can/jar pitted black olives
  • 1 can/jar artichoke hearts, preferably not in vinegar
  • 4-6 Italian sausages (hot or sweet — I like hot)
  • 1 lb pasta (penne, rotini or other bite-sized shape)

1) Start water boiling for pasta, and start sausages frying.*
2) In a dry non-stick saucepan big enough to hold all the ingredients (a wok is perfect), cook the red peppers over medium-high heat for several minutes, stirring frequently, until they’re soft and most of their moisture is cooked out.
3) Add the olive oil and onions. Reduce heat to medium (if necessary), and cook until onions are soft. If any caramelized juice from the peppers stuck to the pan in the previous step, scrape it off into the oil.
4) Add tomatoes and cook until they melt — this makes the liquid for the sauce.
5) When sausages are done, chop them up and add them in, then add the olives and the artichoke hearts (but not the water from their cans or jars), and stir together.
6) Blanch** the kale in the boiling pasta water, then chop and add to the other ingredients. Reduce heat to low, mix thoroughly, and cover. Stir occasionally.
7) Boil the pasta. If you like, add a ladle of starchy pasta water to the kale mixture.
Serve the kale mixture over the pasta, with some sauce/juice spooned into each serving. Makes 4 main-course servings; can also be a side dish, with or without the pasta. I usually make twice this amount in a batch.
* I boil the sausages first, then pour off the water and brown them in the pan to finish. This spares my small apartment from a lot of grease and smoke.
** To blanch, hold the kale by the stems and dunk the leaves in the boiling water for 20-30 seconds (be careful not to burn yourself in the steam!), then immediately dunk it in cold water or run it under the sink. Squeeze out the water, then chop. This isn’t strictly necessary, but it causes the kale to turn a beautiful vibrant color, and reduces its volume, making it easier to handle and stir into everything else. Variations/additions/substitutions:
Tunafish is surprisingly good in this (add a can when the sausages go in). Chopped portabella mushrooms are also good, and are recommended for a vegetarian version (add with the tomatoes, letting them absorb and then expel the tomato juice as they cook). Without the sausages, you’ll need some salt or another salty ingredient.
Without the peppers and/or onions, you’ll need a pinch of sugar or another sweet ingredient.