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MainRecipesPasta | Sausage, Kale and Butternut Squash Rigatoni

   Sausage, Kale and Butternut Squash Rigatoni submitted by Karen Johnson
This is one of the best dishes to make during the colder months. Everyone raves about it. The best part is it is packed with the power foods kale and butternut squash. This also works very well with brown rice noodles. No one could tell I switched the pasta.

1) Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. 

2) Preheat the oven to 400F. 

3) Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. 

4) On a large baking sheet or roasting pan, toss the squash with 3 Tablespoons of the olive oil. Scatter the thyme sprigs and 3 of the garlic cloves over the squash. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, until the squash is tender but not mushy. Reduce the oven to 375F. 

5) Heat the remaining Tablespoon of oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until the meat is no longer pink. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon, and put in a large bowl. Drain enough oil so 2 Tablespoons is left in the pan.

6)Lower heat to medium, add the kale and 3 garlic cloves and saute for 3 to 5 minutes, until the kale is wilted. If it begins to burn or stick add a few tablespoons of water. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

7)Turn off the heat, remove the garlic, and add sausage to the kale in the pot.  
8) When the squash is done, remove the garlic and thyme sprig stems and throw away, add the squash to the sausage mixture in the pot.  

9) Cook the pasta so it is still a bit firm. (about 2 minutes before directions recommend). It will finish cooking in the oven.  

10) Toss the drained pasta with the sausage mixture. Add the cream, 1.5 cups of the cheese, and 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Toss gently and transfer to baking dish. Top with breadcrumbs if using and remaining 1/4 cup cheese.   

11) Bake for 25 minutes, until heated through and crusty on top. 
Serves 8 easy

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v 1.5 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (can use pre-cut to save time)
v 4 Tablespoons olive oil
v 6 to 8 sprigs fresh thyme
v 6 cloves garlic
v 1 teaspoon salt
v 1/2 teaspoon pepper
v 1 pound bulk Italian sweet sausage, works very well with chicken sausage too
v 1 bunch kale, carefully washed, stems removed, and coarsely chopped
v 3/4 pound rigatoni, or brown rice penne
v 2 cups heavy cream
v 1.75 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese (can use combination of parmesan and romano for a milder flavor)
v 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, leave out for gluten free

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