When I talk about this pasta with my family I have dubbed it "the world's greatest pasta." I joke, of course, because the list of my favorite pasta recipes is long, but this is pretty freaking phenomenal.
Now, I'm not gonna lie...not the most lowfat recipe. It's not vegetarian, vegan, Paleo or gluten-free. Delicious, yes. Satisfying, yes. Tummy & heart-warming, yes. Perfect for a fall or winter night, yes. And it has kale in it, so it has to be healthy, right?
3 T. olive oil, divided
1 pound loose Italian sausage
2 medium onions - sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 large fennel bulb - white bulb cored & sliced 1/8 inch thick
4 cloves garlic - chopped
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1/2 t. ground fennel
1 pound farfalle
4 c. packed, chopped kale (bite-size pieces)
1 1/2 c. cream
1/2 c. grated Parmesan
Heat 1 T. olive oil in a 12 inch, heavy-bottom skillet over medium high heat. Add sausage, breaking up with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned and no longer pink in the middle, about 8 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
Soak up any excess grease out skillet with a paper towel, but leave the browned bits from the sausage. Heat remaining 2 T. olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and fennel, cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. **At any point, if it seems like the bottom of the pan is burning, add a couple tablespoons of water and stir to deglaze the pan.** When onions & fennel have softened, turn heat to medium-low, remove the lid and continue to cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Toward the end of cooking onions & fennel, heat up your pasta cooking water. Be sure to add salt!
When onions & fennel are very soft and golden blond color, turn the heat back up to medium high. Add the garlic and cook one minute. Add the cooked sausage, red pepper flakes and ground fennel.
Add farfalle to boiling water and cook according to al dente directions and drain.
While farfalle is boiling, add kale to the skillet with 1/4 c. of water. Cover and cook until kale is wilted - about 3 minutes. Remove lid and let any remaining water evaporate. Turn heat to medium low, add cream and stir. Let simmer 2-3 minutes.
Add cooked farfalle and stir to coat evenly with cream sauce. Toss with 1/2 c. Parmesan. It’s ready to serve - pass more Parmesan at the table if desired.