Sausage and Kale Mac n’ Cheese

Mac n’ cheese becomes dinner with crispy sausage and a lot of healthy kale.  The mustard powder is optional, but I find that it brings out a buttery flavor in the cheese sauce.  This recipe is for two servings, because an extra serving carries very well in a food storage container to be reheated the next day at work for lunch.

This meal is something that I make often, because the ingredients are easy to keep on hand. When I buy sausage, I separate each link into a snack sized food storage bag and freeze it. I take out one or two links from the freezer as needed, and thaw overnight in the refrigerator, or even the morning I plan to make it – it defrosts within an hour or so, especially if you place it in a container of water.

Cheddar cheese keeps well in the refrigerator, sealed tightly in a Ziplock sandwich bag and placed in the top rack of the refrigerator where the temperature is not the coldest. I find if I buy the cheaper, store-brand cheddar cheese it actually keeps the longest for some reason….so I save some money doing that. I’ve kept a block of cheddar cheese in my fridge easily for a month and sometimes even longer, so it is always on hand to grate into a quick mac n’ cheese meal.

Kale is a great vegetable to have around in the fridge, it keeps well over a week tied loosely in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer. It can help with cancer prevention and has notably high levels of vitamin K which helps with bone growth, not to mention calcium, fiber, iron, and almost any other nutrient you can think of.

When I come home around 7:30pm it is all I can do to put my purse down, take off my work clothes, put on my sweats, and start preparing dinner before it gets too late to eat. The steps to this recipe are simple to make and go fast. First, get the cheese grated and measure out the butter and flour for the cheese sauce. Prep the kale onto a plate, which can seem like a daunting task but actually goes pretty quickly, especially if you just tear up the leaves rather than go to the trouble of chopping it. Then brown the sausage and reserve on a paper towel lined plate. Now you’re almost ready to go – just get the pasta cooking along with the kale and make the cheese sauce. At the end it just gets mixed together in a bowl, and before you know it you are headed with it to the couch and TV.

Sausage and Kale Mac n’ Cheese
Ingredients

2 cups rotini pasta (whole wheat or regular)

1 1/2 cups kale, washed, stemmed, and sliced

1 tsp olive oil

2 links of sweet or hot Italian sausage

2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp flour

1 1/2 cups milk

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 tsp salt

Few grinds of black pepper

1/4 tsp mustard powder (optional)

Directions

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil.  Add the rotini pasta and kale.  Bring back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, until pasta is cooked and kale is tender.  Drain and reserve.

Meanwhile, add olive oil to a small non-stick skillet and heat over medium heat.  Take sausage out of its casings and crumble into skillet.  Cook about 10 minutes, until all sausage is browned and crisp.  Drain on a paper towel lined plate and reserve.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter and add flour.  Whisk to combine and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes then gradually whisk in the milk, incorporating the flour mixture until smooth.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer about 5 minutes, whisking occasionally, until sauce has thickened.  Turn off the heat and whisk in shredded cheese by handfuls, until cheese has melted. Season with salt, black pepper and mustard powder, if using. 

Stir the reserved browned sausage into the cheese sauce, along with the reserved pasta and kale.  Serve.

2 servings

Published by Irena Springer

Travel and food blogger

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