OK, I’ll admit, I was inspired to make this because black trumpet mushrooms were on sale. But, you can definitely make this with whatever mushrooms you like or have on hand and it would be just as good. The same thing goes for the pasta — any shape you can poke with a fork will do nicely — I just happen to like rigatoni. The Kale gives this dish a warm rustic feel.
I’m no nonna, but here are the things that I think really matter: Brown the sausage well, be nice to the mushrooms, don't overcook the pasta, and season as you go. Enjoy!
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a saucepot. Add the sausage and cook until browned, about 7-8 minutes. Remove with tongs to a bowl and set aside.
Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the pot and add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then remove to a bowl and set aside. Add the remaining olive oil along with the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until softened, stirring often, for 8-9 minutes.
Add the kale and cook until wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the sausage back into the pot and the crushed tomatoes. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Season with salt until it tastes like the sea and add the pasta. Cook until al dente, according to package directions. Drain and reserve 1 cup pasta water.
Add the mushrooms and thyme to the sauce, stir, and toss with the pasta. Add up to 1 cup of the reserved pasta water to thicken the sauce, if needed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with grated pecorino romano.