Monthly Recipe……. Baked Ziti with Creamy Kale and Sausage
Olive oil cooking spray
4 deli-fresh lean spicy Italian turkey sausages (about 15 oz), casings removed
2 12-oz bunches Lacinato kale, ribs removed and leaves chopped
1 lb whole-wheat ziti, rigatoni or penne pasta
2 tbsp organic unsalted butter
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup white whole-wheat flour
4 cups 1% milk
4 oz part-skim, low-moisture mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 packed cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in liquid)
1/4 tsp sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
2 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, line a large plate with paper towel. Heat a large skillet on medium-high and mist with cooking spray. Add sausage and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 7 to 9 minutes. With a slotted spatula, transfer sausage to plate and cover with 2 more layers of paper towel, pressing lightly to absorb excess fat; set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F. To boiling water, add kale and cook until just tender, 1 to 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer kale to a colander and set aside to drain. Return saucepan to a boil, add pasta and cook until just barely al dente (undercooked by about 1 minute). Meanwhile, line a large bowl with paper towel and transfer kale to bowl to absorb any remaining liquid. Drain pasta and set aside.
In a separate large saucepan, melt butter on medium-low. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute, until fragrant. Gradually whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in 1 cup milk. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer, whisking frequently, until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in remaining 3 cups milk. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking frequently, for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add mozzarella and whisk until melted and mixture thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off heat.
To milk mixture, add tomatoes, salt, pepper, sausage, pasta and kale and stir to combine. Transfer to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and top with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake until cheese melts and sauce bubbles, 15 to 18 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.