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Orecchiette with Kale, Fennel, and Sausage

Athena Calderone, Cook Beautiful
Orecchiette with Kale, Fennel, and Sausage



¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1½ pounds fresh Italian pork sausage, removed from their casings (I prefer a half-and-half mix of sweet and spicy)

4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped

1 shallot, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

1 fennel bulb, cored, quartered, and thinly sliced

½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

⅔ cup chicken stock

1 bunch lacinato kale, ribs removed and roughly chopped

1 pound dried orecchiette pasta

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving

Freshly cracked pepper, for serving


In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring and breaking up the meat, until it’s browned on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and transfer it to a plate.

Add the garlic to the same skillet and sauté for 2 minutes, until light golden. Add the shallot and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the red pepper fakes, if using, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the fennel and salt and sauté until the fennel has softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the stock and cook a few minutes more.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the kale to the boiling water and blanch it for 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the kale and add it to the skillet, along with the sausage. Return the water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook according to the package directions until al dente.

Drain the pasta into a colander, making sure to reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the skillet and cook it with the sausage and kale over low heat for 1 to 2minutes. If the pasta is dry, moisten it with the reserved pasta water, adding ¼ cup at a time. Check and adjust the seasoning.

Finish the pasta with grated cheese and freshly cracked pepper. Serve immediately

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