Cavatappi With Kale and Italian Sausage

Serves 4 (about 6 cups).

Note: This easy recipe is a great way to showcase your tasty vegan sausage. Don’t be tempted to use less olive oil; it’s the key to carrying the flavor of sausage, garlic and lemon throughout the dish. Blanching and drying the kale leaves serves two purposes: It tenderizes the kale and keeps it from adding water to the sauce, which would dilute the flavor. If you want to add a sprinkling of vegan or regular Parmesan, that would be delicious, too. From Robin Asbell.

• Salt

• 1 bunch Tuscan kale

• 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil

• 2 garlic cloves

• 2 tsp. fresh lemon zest

• 2 links vegan Italian Sausage (about 7 oz. or more)

• 1 c. grape tomatoes, halved

• 8 oz. cavatappi pasta or rotini

• Freshly cracked black pepper

Directions

Put on a big pot of water to boil, and salt it generously.

Strip the leaves from the stems of the kale and reserve the stems for another use or discard.

When the water boils, drop the kale leaves into the water and stir with tongs for 60 seconds, then use the tongs to remove them to a colander. Drain and rinse with cold water. When cool, squeeze out the liquid and spread the kale on a clean towel, then roll up into a tube shape so the towel can absorb any remaining water. Let stand for about 5 minutes, then unroll the towel and chop the kale into small bite-sized pieces.

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir, then add the lemon zest. Stir for a minute, until the garlic is fragrant, don’t let it brown. Add the sausage pieces, tomato halves and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and raise the heat to medium-high, and stir until the tomatoes have puckered and shrunk a bit, about 4 minutes.

Cook the pasta and toss with the contents of the pan and crack black pepper over it to taste, turning the pasta over medium heat until all the pasta is coated with oil. Taste and correct seasoning, if desired. Serve warm.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 465 Fat 18 g Sodium 830 mg

Carbohydrates 57 g Saturated fat 3 g Total sugars 4 g

Protein 20 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 5 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 3 starch, ½ carb, 1 ½ lean protein, 2 ½ fat.