Beer and Sausage Pasta

A few months ago, Ashley of (never)homemaker posted a recipe for crockpot vegetable soup, and she used beer in place of the vegetable stock.  I tried her recipe when my family was here for the holidays, and my mind was blown.  The turkey stock in my freezer may never get used.  It's beer from here on out.

The richness of flavor that the beer brings an otherwise average meal is just unbeatable.  So I've been trying it in everything imaginable.  And this one is by far my favorite.  We've had it twice in the last month, which doesn't seem like that much but is a lot for me.  I'm generally pretty flighty with my food choices.  But I was actually craving this dish after we had it.  The mix of all the different flavors - the smoothness of the sweet potatoes, the spicy sausage, the tangy sun-dried tomatoes, the beer.  Absolutely delicious.

Though there's a little prep time, this pasta is a cinch to make, and it could easily be a dish you serve over rice or quinoa or with mashed potatoes if that's your thing instead of pasta.  I think we'll be having it with quinoa at some point in the future.  Probably not too far in the future, actually...

Beer and Sausage Pasta

1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 sweet potato, diced
1 pound sausage (I used Bilinski's chicken andouille-flavored sausage), chopped
4 large leaves curly kale, thinly chopped
4 cloves minced garlic
6 sun-dried tomatoes, diced
1/2 pound pasta of your choice (I used fusilli)
1 can beer of your choice (I used Budweiser)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  In a pan over medium heat, saute the onions in olive oil.  Add oregano, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir occasionally and cook until the onions begin to soften, about five minutes.
2.  While the onions are cooking, steam the diced sweet potato until soft (about ten minutes) and put the pasta water on to boil.
3.  Once the onions are soft, move them to the edges of the pan and put the sausage in the middle of the pan.  Turn up the heat just a bit and resist the urge to stir too much!  Let the sausage brown a bit before turning it and letting it cook a bit more.
4.  When the sausage has browned a little on the outside, add in the garlic and the sun-dried tomatoes and pour in the beer.  Turn down the heat to medium low and let it all simmer and get good and beer-y. This is probably around the time your pasta water will be boiling and ready for the pasta.
5.  Once about half of the beer has reduced down, add in the kale and put the top on to allow the kale to wilt for about five minutes.
6.  When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it and mix the pasta with the sausage.  Serve immediately with a good, hearty whole wheat bread.

*The first time I made this dish, I mixed in a couple of tablespoons of nutritional yeast at the end of the sausage mixture cooking time.  It adds a bit of creaminess that I liked.  I'll probably make it both ways in the future.