I saw this recipe by The Casserole Queens in a magazine and it sounded really yummy and healthy, so I thought I would try it. However, after reading through the ingredients, I decided to substitute some items to fit my family’s tastes. Luckily, it turned out well! Below is the adapted version:
1lb whole wheat penne
1 10oz. pkg. ready-to-use kale, stems removed (Trader Joe’s Organics)
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (approx.)
1 pkg. Sweet Chicken Italian sausage (Trader Joe’s), casings removed
1 med. onion, chopped
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. finely chopped garlic (jar)
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 C. lactose-free milk
1 14.5oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
2 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and remove the stems from the kale and tear into smaller pieces (I only used the dark green leafy pieces). Cook the pasta according to package directions and add the kale during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Rinse and drain the pasta/kale mixture and return it to the pot.
Heat about 1 Tbsp. oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook (breaking it up with a spoon) until beginning to brown, about 5-6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined bowl.*
Using the same skillet (it should already have enough oil leftover from cooking the sausage) add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for another 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, about 2-3 minutes.
Add the sauce to the pasta/kale mixture and toss to coat. Next, add the sausage, tomatoes, 1 C. mozzarella and toss to combine. Transfer the pasta mixture to a 3qt or 9x13in. casserole dish (I sprayed it with non-stick spray just in case). Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella (add more if you like lots of cheese) and bake until heated through and golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.
When cooking the sausage, you don’t need to use too much oil, as the sausage itself lets off a lot of oil once it starts to cook. After I cooked it, I drained it on paper towels to try and soak up the excess oil. Since I’m not a huge fan of sausage, next time I make this recipe, I will probably use chicken breast (cut into thin strips) or ground chicken, or I might even try using tofu to make it vegetarian.
To try the original version of the recipe, go to womansday.com.