This is a pasta dish of strong flavors: dark, earthy kale is offset by bright lemon cream and a warm, aromatic heat from crushed red chiles and garlic.
¼ cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
1 bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
2½ cups half and half
⅓ cup grated Parmesan
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound dried penne pasta
3 tbsp. finely chopped parsley, for garnish
1. Heat oil in a 6-qt saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion and red chile flakes; cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add sausage, and cook, using a wooden spoon to break it up into small pieces until browned, 16 to 18 minutes. Add kale, season with salt and pepper, and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add half and half and bring to a simmer; cook, stirring occasionally until reduced by a third, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in Parmesan, juice and zest, nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper; set aside and keep warm.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add penne and cook, stirring occasionally until al dente, 8 to 9 minutes. Drain, reserving ¼ cup cooking water; add both pasta and water to reserved sauce and cook about 5 minutes more. Serve garnished with parsley.