Pasta with Sausage, Zucchini, Kale, and Garlic Scapes

I think I can safely say this is my favorite pasta. A fun pasta shape, sausage countered with bitter greens, slight heat from the red pepper flakes, and loads of garlic is just my idea of heaven. I make versions of this fairly regularly, with the pasta and sausage staying consistent, but switching up the green veg, maybe adding sauteed onions, and always garlic. This is essentially just an adapted version of the classic Italian dish orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe. If you don’t eat meat, I would add another tablespoon of olive oil to start and add in a couple 15-oz cans of creamy cannellini beans when you’re done cooking the veg.

My full share this week was lettuce, garlic scapes, carrots, zucchini, cabbage, radishes, parsley, and cilantro. I will admit I didn’t use up my basil from last week, but since it came with the roots I just stuck the bunch in a jar of water on the counter and it was still looking great at the time I made this pasta. Here is a great guide to washing and storing fresh produce to make your share last as long as possible. I do the same thing and plan my meals based on what needs to be used up first – always lettuce early in the week and sturdy veg bringing up the rear.

On Monday I made a Spanish tortilla and served it with a simple side salad of lettuce and radishes using the same dressing as last week. Another night I adapted a kofta recipe (Turkish meatballs) by adding shredded zucchini, and served them with bulgar, grilled carrots, garlic yogurt sauce, and cilantro. The kofta were almost a grilling disaster as they were too delicate to be flipped, but I managed to salvage them and dinner was still delicious. If you’ve never grilled carrots, these early ones are perfect for the grill – just scrub them well, halve them, give them a toss in olive oil and cook until charred, finishing with something creamy like yogurt or feta, and herbs. Tomorrow I’m planning on grilling some chicken thighs and zucchini for tacos, topped with radishes, onion, shredded cabbage, and cilantro. I made a chocolate zucchini bread this week, and I’m already eyeing this cake for my next giant zuke.

What are you cooking?

Pasta with Sausage, Zucchini, Kale, and Garlic Scapes

Serves 6-8

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more if needed
  • 1 lb Italian sausages (either sweet or spicy)
  • 1 large zucchini (mine was 25 oz)
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 bunch garlic scapes (mine had 6)
  • 3 cloves garlic (or the white bottom section of fresh garlic)
  • 1 small bunch basil (about ½ cup chopped)
  • A large handful parsley leaves (about ½ cup chopped)
  • 1 lb short pasta (I used girelle)
  • Salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more if you like!)
  • Fresh grated parm for serving

Chop the sausage into bite sized pieces if using links. Heat a large, heavy bottom pot over medium heat (keep in mind the entire pasta dish will be finished in this pot so err on the large side). Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to heat up, then add the sausage. Cook until it is cooked through and browned.

While the sausage is browning, chop the zucchini into 1/2″ cubes. Remove the stems from the kale and roughly chop. Mince the garlic and chop the garlic scapes into 1/2 inch pieces (just do your best – they are hard to tame).

Using a slotted spoon remove the sausage from the pan and add 1 tablespoon more olive oil. Add in the zucchini, plus a big pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is soft and browned (about 10 minutes).

Put on a large pot half filled with water and a large pinch of salt to boil (not filling the pot with water means the water that is leftover is much more concentrated with pasta starch – essential for good sauce building). Cook the pasta until al dente. I find the cooking times on pasta vary wildly, so I set a timer for 5 minutes to start, taste it then, and then add time as needed.

Add in the garlic scapes, garlic and red pepper flakes to the zucchini pot and stir to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes (the garlic should become fragrant), then add the kale in and toss to wilt. Add the sausage back to the pot.

When the pasta is done, use a slotted spoon to put it directly into the pot with the other ingredients. Add a half a ladle-full of pasta water to the pot, and stir to combine. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Roughly chop the herbs. Finish the pasta with the herbs, and serve with grated parm, and more red pepper flakes.

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