I peruse cookbooks, watch Netflix documentaries, and read food memoirs. I often find myself audibly saying, or writing in the margins, “Amen!” when I read something about food that I deeply resonate with. It’s usually because the words go much deeper than mere descriptions of ingredients, although those descriptions can be quite rich in and of themselves (see Robert Farrar Capon's chapter about an onion). It would be impossible to plumb the depths of all there is to know about food...but I intend to give it a shot anyway.
When my husband and I sit down for a meal at night, especially if it’s a recipe I’ve toyed around with or an ingredient I haven’t cooked before, I drive him crazy with over-analyzing. I think through every bite. Was it marinated long enough? What would I do differently next time? How come it took longer to cook than what the recipe recommended? Does this need a little more spice? I’m sure it’s very annoying, I know, and I’m learning better how and when to express my thoughts about my obsession.
But there’s something about food that intrigues me so deeply. Maybe it’s the fact that it involves all the senses - taste, smell, feel, sight, and even sound. You don’t get that in every creative outlet. You smell the familiar sweetness of sauteed onions. You taste the saltiness of smoked sausage and the slight bitterness of kale. You hear a soft crunch with every bite, see the pop of color from cherry tomatoes, and feel creamy melted cheese on your tongue.
Maybe I’m a little too obsessive (or crazy). But when the perfect combination of flavors comes together to ignite all the senses, I get excited. We need food to live, but God didn't create merely for the sake of sustenance. God supplied Adam and Eve with variety in the garden, a feast of taste they could enjoy.
God in his grace does not bind us to mere necessity. He gives us nourishment, and he also gives us creativity, delight, and refreshment at the table.
Pasta with Smoked Sausage, Cherry Tomatoes + Kale
Yields about 8 servings
1 pound bowtie pasta
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (more if needed)
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound smoked turkey sausage, cut into ½-inch slices*
1 ½ pounds cherry tomatoes
8 ounces chopped kale (remove any hard stems)
1 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Shaved Parmesan (optional)
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving a ½ cup of the pasta water.
While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven set to medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Make sure you stir often to avoid burning the garlic.
Add the turkey sausage and cook for another couple minutes to brown the sausage. If the pot seems too dry, add another tablespoon or two of oil.
Add the cherry tomatoes to the pot. Cook until the tomatoes soften and pop. Stir in the kale, chicken stock, kosher salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Simmer 2-3 minutes, until the kale wilts and the liquid reduces a bit.
Add the cooked pasta to the pot. Stir everything together, and cook for a few more minutes until all the ingredients are fully incorporated and the liquid reduces to your liking. Alternatively, if you need to add more liquid, add the reserved pasta water 2-3 tablespoons at a time. (Pasta water is best to because it helps the sauce adhere to the pasta and adds additional flavor. Plain water will not achieve the same result!)
Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve with Parmesan shavings and red pepper flakes. Enjoy!
*You can use any type of sausage you like, but note that for this recipe, I used smoked turkey sausage that was fully cooked to begin with. If you use a different type of sausage that’s not fully cooked, be sure to adjust accordingly.
This recipe was originally featured at Lark + Linen.