If you follow me on Instagram you know that I joined a local CSA for the first time this year. It is fun being introduced to new vegetables, but it is challenging as well. Some of the vegetables I receive I have never heard of, have only tried in restaurants or have never cooked with. Over the next few weeks, I have a new series planned where I am showcasing how I use some of the vegetables from my CSA. Hopefully, this will inspire you to pick up a new vegetable at the Farmer’s market or grocery store or help you cook with it, if like me, you receive it in a CSA pickup.
The first vegetable that I am spotlighting is escarole. Escarole is a leafy green that looks like a head of lettuce, but has a more bitter taste. Because the head of escarole I had was so large, I settled on this Penne with Escarole and Sausage recipe from the Cooking Channel, figuring I’d be able to use most of it up. I have made a similar recipe to this one in the past using broccoli rabe, another bitter green. This recipe was a winner, as the bitterness of the leaves was greatly reduced by the heating. It also blended well with the flavors of the garlic and sausage. To keep the recipe kid-friendly, I omitted the crushed red pepper that the original recipe called for.
Penne with Escarole and Sausage
Recipe adapted from the Cooking Channel, courtesy of Emeril Lagasse
teaspoon olive oil
large onion diced
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus additional for salting pasta water
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing
While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper, cooking until onion is soft, approximately 5 minutes. Add the sausage and cook until browned, 6 to 8 minutes, breaking up the sausage pieces as it cooks. Add the garlic and escarole, and cook for approximately 5 minutes longer, as escarole beings to wilt.
Add the cooked pasta and the reserved cooking water, and stir gently to combine. Simmer until everything is heated through, approximately 2 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to a large serving bowl. Add the cheese tossing to combine.