Zoning Codes + RECIPE: Orecchiette with Kale Pesto, Sausage & White Beans


Have you ever noticed how pasta just solves everything? Like honestly, all the problems of the world, washed away for 10 minutes as you bite into that perfect starchy piece of pasta. If you are lucky there’s also cheese involved and a sauce with just enough garlic. Okay, maybe a little too much garlic. Because in excessive quantities is exactly how I like my garlic.


On Sunday night I got a phone call from our future building inspector. I was excited to chat about my latest genius idea. (This poor guy). I told him about how I want to build an apartment above a garage instead of a home with the full intention to rent it out later when my Carrot and I are finally ready to build our dream home next door. We want to have a dozen small cabins or guest rentals on our property in the future and this seemed like the perfect, first baby step.

As I sipped my pumpkin beer and listened to Bob, my world felt as if it came crashing down. I learned the grown-up truth that some dreams may become limited by things like zoning codes and regulations and “one dwelling per land parcel.”

Immediately, my head started spinning with how to make all our building and business dreams come true while also navigating this tricky thing called local government. My Carrot tells me that he knows we’ll figure out a new plan. Because we always do. Which is him using the optimism that I taught him over the course of our 6 years together and also really sweet and honestly also so truly beautiful, but only mildly reassuring.

He’s such a good partner to me though, so I sat on the couch, doing my best not to get worked up or stressed out or over-react in any of my usual ways. Yet patient and reasonable as I tried to be, I was unable to keep the disappointment from taking over for a minute (or twelve). I vented and I whined and I bitched. More than a little bit. And then, I headed upstairs, pumpkin beer definitely still in hand, and I made the most decadent, comforting pasta of my life. And the troubles. Well they definitely melted away.

kale pasta

It could be because kale, sausage and white beans with lots of garlic and lots of crushed red pepper happens to be the greatest food combination of all time. It also could be because I used that leftover fancy Italian orecchiette I’ve been saving since way back in March. Or, it could be because pasta solves all of your problems if you allow it to.

pasta 2

As I nibbled up bite after bite of orecchiette slathered in kale pesto, I realized my Carrot was right. We have a whole winter ahead of us where we won’t have to work 80 hour weeks anymore. We’ll look at small home designs together and think creativity (a.k.a. even more creatively than before) about how to construct a future business that has all the elements we seek while also improving and stimulating the local community without breaking any of the rules. We’ll have talks that are deeper and more serious than they would have been before. The limiting of options can be a good thing! (By now, we’ve all heard about the Paradox of Choice, haven’t we?). I’m certainly frustrated, but I’m no longer worried. We’ll get there. We’ll figure out a new plan like we have every time before.

Thank you pasta. Thank you for washing my worries away.



Takes 30 minutes
Serves 4

2 cups dried orecchiette pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound bulk pork sausage
1-15 ounce can cannellini beans (white Navy beans)
2 stalks kale, stems removed and torn into pieces
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup water
3 tablespoons kale pesto (recipe below) or any other pesto
Shredded parmesan, optional
Toasted and chopped almonds, optional

Fill medium saucepan 3/4 full with water. Add salt and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add pasta. Cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet. Add sausage to skillet. Break it up into quarter-size pieces so it’s almost like a bunch of little pork sausage meatballs. Some pieces will inevitably be smaller too. Don’t sweat it. Sausage broken into variable sizes is perfect. Cook until browned thoroughly. Drain grease. Add beans and cook for 2 minutes until warmed. Add kale, salt, red pepper, black pepper and water. Stir until kale is wilted and water is reduced to almost nothing. Add pesto and stir until well combined. Add pasta to sausage, kale and white beans. Stir in some of the pasta water to loosen mixture if needed. Once pasta is well coated with pesto, taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
Serve warm with some finely shredded Parmesan and toasted almonds. Watch your worries melt away.

Kale Pesto
1 leek, white and light green parts only, sliced
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup toasted almonds
1-1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 leaves kale, torn off stems
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
10 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Combine leeks, garlic and almonds in a food processor. Puree until uniform and finely chopped. Add salt, pepper and kale. Begin food processor. Add lemon juice and olive oil while the food processor is still running. Kale should gradually incorporate into the mixture. It can take up to 5 minutes for all of it to be blended smoothly. Add red pepper flakes. Pulse to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
Makes 1-1/2 cups of pesto.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Vicky says:

    “Land parcel” cannot be an actual term used in serious conversation. Also pumpkin beer….NOOOO. (But pasta is the answer to everything, YES).


    1. Leek says:

      Also, what’s up with all the pumpkin beer hating!!?? I will ALWAYS love pumpkin beer. No matter how bad.


  2. Pingback: CSA Week 9.

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