Something a little sweet, and a little spicy.

Honey mixed with the Ethiopian Berbere spice blend is one of my favorite flavor combinations. I discovered it in a seemingly unlikely place: Harlem.

On a trip to New York I naturally had to visit Marcus Samuelsson’s restaurant, Red Rooster. While Marcus Samuelsson was raised in Sweden, the story goes that from a culinary perspective he has embraced his Ethiopian roots in some respects. As a result, today he serves a honey Berbere with his fried chicken at Red Rooster. (Which, if you’ve never tried spicy honey on fried chicken I suggest you go for it the next time you get a bucket of takeaway chicken.)

smoked sausage pasta

I also happened to have some Berbere spice courtesy of my in laws. I use the Savory brand, but if you can’t find it in your spice section it’s widely available online.

This dish is a bit of a smorgasbord. It’s also more of a pasta pilaf or warm pasta salad than an uber saucy pasta dish. The smoked sausage plays so well with the honey and the spice. It makes for a quick weeknight dish or could also work as a hearty side at a big party or barbecue. Don’t feel married to the kale; pretty much any seasonal vegetable sautéed with the onions and tossed in will work here, like yellow squash or even broccoli florets in the summer, or diced butternut squash in the fall.

smoked sausage pasta

Honey Berbere Pasta with Smoked Sausage
  • 8 oz rotini or penne
  • 1 tbsp salt plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 pound smoked sausage links sliced into half moons
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp berbere spice
  • 1 onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 cups kale or Swiss chard roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese plus more for garnish
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil with the salt. Add the pasta and cook al dente according to package direction. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water before draining and mix it with the honey. Set aside.

  2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the chopped sausage and cook until brown and seared. Remove from the pan. Add the oil, onion and Berbere seasoning and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the greens and cook until wilted but still bright green, about another 5 minutes. Add the garlic and quickly toss until fragrant, about another minute or two.

  3. Add the sausage, pasta, parmesan and onions/greens to a large bowl and toss together with the honey and pasta water mixture. Give it a taste and add more honey, spice, or salt and pepper as needed.  If the dish seems too watery, let it sit a minute and then toss again. The pasta should soak up any remaining water after a few minutes. 

  4. Garnish with more parmesan and serve warm.

Recipe Notes
  • If there is a lot of grease left in the pan after removing the sausages, additional oil when adding the onion isn't necessary. Typically, venison sausage is leaner so a little more will be needed. 
Posted in Venison
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