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Cookbook Review: My Year in Meals, by Rachael Ray

Rachael Ray's new cookbook is full of pasta recipes and plenty more. Her pasta with homemade sausage and kale in roasted garlic sauce was simple enough for a weeknight meal, and delicious enough for a weekend dinner party.

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Rachael Ray's pasta with sausage and kale in roasted garlic sauce
Serves 4 to 6

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1 head garlic, top cut off to expose the cloves, plus 3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), plus more for drizzling

salt and pepper

1 bunch, about 1/2 pound kale, stemmed and thinly sliced (Ray calls for lacinato kale, though I'm sure any type of greens, or even broccoli or peas would work great in this dish.) 

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

2 large onions, thinly sliced

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup dry white wine (may substitute cooking wine)

1-1/2 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 pound rigatoni pasta

homemade pork sausage (recipe follows)

freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-reggiano cheese, for topping

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Drizzle the head of garlic with some EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Wrap in foil and roast until tender and caramel in color, about 40 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a pot of boiling salted water, cook the kale for a few minutes to take the bitterness out. Drain it and wring it out in a kitchen towel so it's perfectly dry. Set aside.

3. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramel in color, very soft, and sweet, about 30 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the wine and discard the bay leaf. 

4. In a food processor, combine the roasted garlic (squeezed out of the skins), the onions, and enough stock to smoothly purée the sauce. Transfer to a saucepan and stir in the cream. Cook to reduce and thicken while the pasta cooks.

5. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente (about 11 minutes).

6. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons EVOO (2 turns of the pan) over medium high heat. Add the sausage, breaking it up into crumbles as it browns.

7. Combine the sausage, kale, and creamy sauce. Adjust the salt and pepper, and add nutmeg to taste. Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce. Serve topped with grated Parmigiano-reggiano cheese.

Homemade Pork Sausage
Makes 1 pound 

1 pound ground pork

1 teaspoon ground sage

1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (Ray gets hers at an Italian market, I got mine at the regular grocery store)

1 teaspoon fennel seed

1/2 teaspoon fennel pollen, fennel flour, or ground fennel

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

salt and pepper, to taste

Mix everything together and let it hang out all day in the fridge so that the flavors in the sausage combine. Or you can even make it a day or two ahead.

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