Mediterranean Pasta with Greens

I am really loving the warm weather, spring vegetables, and my Clean Food (vegan) cookbook! I was carb craving so decided to try out the recipe “Mediterranean Pasta with Greens” from the Spring section. My bad luck continues with my car being towed and ticketed today (I forgot it was Tuesday…street cleaning day on my block 😦 ) and my computer stopped working for 12 hours…so a nice comforting pasta dish was in store.  This absolutely hit the spot! It was quick, light, and tasty! Next time I would double the vegetables (a heavy on the pasta veggie ratio) and maybe try out , but overall the recipe was a success. I still don’t have my phone back yet (or a camera) so the pictures are not the same quality as usual, but I tried to capture the deliciousness! Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 pound penne or fusilli
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon dried basil *may have to add more spices if going to double the veggies…just keep the basil to oregano ratio
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas *I used 1 can of chickpeas
2 cups canned diced tomatoes with their liquid *I used 1 28 oz can of organic diced tomatoes. I would double this next time
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup mirin
1 small bunch kale, chopped (I used purple kind fun 😉 )*I would double this
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions

Cook pasta according to directions on package. Rinse, drain and return to pot. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and set aside.

In large Dutch oven over medium heat, sauté garlic and onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until soft (about 3 mins). Add basil, oregano, chickpeas, tomatoes, tomato paste and mirin. Sauté 5 minutes longer. Add kale, then cover and cook 3 minutes or until soft. Uncover and stir to combine all ingredients. Season with salt and lots of pepper and toss with pasta. (I had to add a little vegetable stock here because a little dry with all the pasta). Cook to heat through and serve.

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Sweet Potato, Corn and Kale Chowder

I made this dish (from Clean Food) during a “Girl’s Night In” dinner last week (with slight modifications from the original recipe). It was a huge hit and fantastic for left overs to keep the deliciousness going 🙂 A very colorful and comforting dish. Definitely a new favorite of mine (doesn’t hurt that it has kale *smiles*). Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups corn, fresh or frozen
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups rice milk, plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons cashew butter, dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Instructions

In a large pot or Dutch oven, saute onion in oil over medium heat until soft (~3 mins). Add celery, carrots, sweet potatoes and corn. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add thyme and stock, simmer for 5 minutes. Add enough rice milk to cover the vegetables. Bring pot to boil, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are soft (15-20 minutes). Remove from heat and add dissolved cashew butter. Partially puree using a handheld blender. (I do not have a handheld blender, so I took about 1/3 of the soup, pureed it in my food processor and added it back to the pot). Add kale, return to heat, thin to desired consistency with water, stock, or rice milk(I thinned mine with vegetable stock).Cook until kale is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste!

Kale Chips…light, crispy and delicious!

Sadly all weekend I have been knocked out by this terrible cold. Yesterday, my roommate climbed the three flights of rickety stairs to get to my sick cave (i.e. my room) and brought me some of these delightful treats. Even when I am sick I crave crunchy things, and all the nutrients in these treats were great for my immune system 🙂 and very, very tasty. Thought I would continue the kale love and share the recipe and deliciousness! Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 head kale, washed and thoroughly dried
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (other recipes have used less than this if you are calorie conscious)
  • Sea salt, for sprinkling (my roommate did one batch with sea salt and one batch with Fondor)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Remove the stem from the kale (can usually be done in one long pull down the step) and cut leaves into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Lay on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil and salt. Bake until crisp, turning the leaves halfway through (you also may have to mix some of the leaves from the side into the middle – my roommate found that just mixing them around a bit instead of individually turning each leave over worked as well), about 20-25 minutes.

I also found this cute little video blog on kale chips from another Michael Pollan fan! She does her kale chips at 350 degrees instead. See which version works for you better!

German style Gruenkol (Kale) and Sausage

(UPDATED) One of my current roommates has a German husband and thus is our resident expert on all things German. I told her about my recent blogging and obsession with kale, and she then whips up this traditional northern Germany recipe of sausage and kale that is one of her husbands favorites. Her husband is actually in Germany as we speak, so it was a fitting tribute to him there…(where I am sure he is having some of it there traditional German style *smiles*). I tried to find a recipe online that was similar to what she made (Recipe), but I will briefly lay out what I saw her do while making it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of Kale (stemmed, washed and chopped)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 package of bacon
  • 1 lb of small sausage links (cut in half)
  • 2 lbs of Kielbasa sausage (scored and cut into fourths)
  • 1 lb potatoes (cut into large chunks)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • In a large pot, cook down kale in a pot filled half way up with water.
  • While kale is cooking, sauteed sausages and bacon in a large skillet. The bacon is broken up into smaller bits as it gets crispier.
  • When the sausage and bacon are done cooking, transfer to pot with the cooked kale.
  • Pour water into skillet and scrap up the “bits”. Transfer the liquid to the pot.
  • Add the potatoes and the chopped onion to the pot and fill with water until everything is covered.
  • Bring to boil and then simmer until potatoes/onion are tender.
  • Season dish with the secret ingredient Fondor (a blend of onion, garlic and delicious spices and herbs…according to my roommate a German favorite!)

*Note: my roommate said that her husband with drain most of the liquid when serving himself and then add mustard to the sausages. I ate it just as it was made and it was also tasty that way!

This was a delicious treat today (especially because I didn’t have to make it *smiles*), but by no means have I made this myself. Any comments or suggestions are greatly appreciated!!!!

Kale…a tale of winter love

Kale…my new favorite vegetable. I stumbled upon kale during my quest to eat more vegetables. I started this quest in the winter and naively thought that no vegetables grown locally were in season in winter. Winter, while not a great time for fruits, is prime time for dark, leafy greens…like kale. Fresh kale should look firm with deeply colored leaves (which can range from dark green to purple to deep red in color – the most common being dark green) and hardy stems. Smaller leaves will be more tender and milder in flavor. You can store kale, unwashed, in an air-tight zipped plastic bag for up to five days in the refrigerator. This winter I was able to find kale EVERYWHERE and for cheap ($0.99 a pound). This led to a lot of experimentation and incorporation of kale into my diet.

On top of tasting great, kale is one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat. One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and contains the following percentages of the daily requirements of  calcium and vitamin B6 (15%), magnesium (40%), vitamin A (180%) , vitamin C (200%), and vitamin K (1,020%). Vitamin K can reduce the overall risk of developing and dying from cancer (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition article).  Vitamin K is abundant in kale but also found in parsley, spinach, collard greens, and animal products such as cheese. Kale is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. Kale is rich in carotenoids and flavonoids (specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits), along with lutein and zeaxanthin (compounds which promote eye-health). As with anything, there are some things to be careful about…Kale contains oxalates, naturally occurring substances that decrease the absorption of calcium. Calcium is a very important part of the diet especially for women, so try to avoid eating calcium-rich foods like dairy at the same time as kale to prevent any problems. Furthermore, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.

Three great kale recipes:

Kale with Bacon and Cannellini Beans

Image of Kale with Bacon and Cannellini Beans
As it has been established…I love Kale. But what is better than kale…kale with bacon (my most favorite food there is). This recipe maybe one of my favorite ways to cook kale. Unlike my other two kale dishes, this dish tastes less like a winter only recipe and is an easy week night dish, that can be used as a side or often in my case the main meal. People have also used this as a pasta topping or as a room-temp salad. I personally love it warm. There is so much to love about this recipe from the great texture combinations to all the flavoring with the bacon and the balsamic vinegar. I love, love vinegar so if you are starting out try using the original amount and go from there. This is originally a recipe I got from Weight Watchers which I have adapted for my own tastes. Prep time:  10 min.Cook time:  32 min.Serves: 4. The changes are in bold italics:
Ingredients
3 slice(s) uncooked reduced-fat bacon
3 clove(s) (medium) garlic clove(s), minced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup(s) (chopped) uncooked onion(s), diced   **I added one medium onion chopped
1 pound(s) uncooked kale, stemmed, roughly chopped   **You can add more kale depending on what ratio of bean/kale you like
1 cup(s) canned chicken broth, or beef broth
15 oz canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar   **I add about double this
1 tsp sugar, in the raw

Instructions

  • Set a large, heavy pot or skillet over medium heat; add bacon and cook to desired crispness. Remove bacon from pot and set aside; leave bacon drippings in pot.
  • Add garlic and red pepper flakes to bacon drippings (this is a great way to utilize all the parts of the food product and cut down on adding additional calories to a recipe by needed to add extra oil to saute); cook, stirring, until garlic becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5-8 minutes. Add kale; cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to wilt, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add broth; cover and simmer over low heat until kale is just tender, about 8 to 10 minutes (if you want the kale to retain more of its structure then cook the kale for less time only until it turns the “cooked” green color, instead of cooking it until it is cooked spinach like). Add beans; simmer, uncovered, until liquid is almost evaporated, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in salt, vinegar and sugar; sprinkle with crumbled bacon and serve immediately. Yields about 1 1/4 cups per serving.
Weight Watchers Recipe: 248 people rated this recipe Ratings (248); 5 PointsPlus Value

Rigatoni with Sausage and Kale

Rigatoni with sausage and kale
This recipe is another great way to utilize kale. This is originally a recipe I got from Weight Watchers which I have adapted for my own tastes. Prep time:  10 min.Cook time:  16 min.Serves: 4. Make sure you use a LARGE skillet because of volume of kale until it cooks down some. The changes are in bold italics:

Ingredients

2 cup(s) uncooked rigatoni
1/8 tsp table salt, or to taste, for cooking pasta
8 oz uncooked turkey sausage(s), sweet or spicy variety (If you aren’t calorie conscious regular pork sausage makes it tastier)
4 cup(s) uncooked kale, roughly chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 cup(s) canned chicken broth   *I tended to need more like 3 cups of broth to make the sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper & 1/4 tsp table salt & a pinch of red pepper flakes (if like spice)
1 onion (chopped) & 3 cloves of garlic (minced or pressed)
1/2 cup(s) shredded Parmesan cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended

Instructions

  • Cook rigatoni in salted water according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, remove sausage from casing and cook in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, breaking up sausage as it cooks, about 3 minutes.
  • Push sausage to side of the pan and add the onion and garlic (and red pepper flakes if want some spice). Cook until tender.
  •  Add kale; cook, stirring frequently, until limp, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add broth (1 to 3 cups depending on how much sauce you like) to skillet and scrape up browned bits on bottom of skillet with a wooden spoon; season with salt and pepper. Cover skillet and reduce heat to low; cook until kale is tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in rigatoni; heat through.
  • Sprinkle each serving with about 2 tablespoons of cheese before serving. Yields about 1 1/2 cups per serving.

Notes:

  • I have also made this with mushrooms to add a little bit of earthiness to the recipe. Throw in the mushrooms while after cooking the onion/garlic and before adding the kale.
  • You can make this dish vegetarian by swapping cannellini beans for the sausage and vegetable broth for the chicken broth
Weight Watchers Recipe: 1376 people rated this recipe Ratings (1376) and 8 PointsPlus Value