Friday, July 26, 2013


I love Kale. I do. I love the way it tastes, it versatility (braise it, saute it, massage it into a salad, bake it in muffins, slip it into all sorts of casseroles, scramble it into eggs), and it's good for you. Win, win, win.

Inspired by an article in our local paper, I had my own Kale-A-Rama cooking fest a few weeks back. Here is what I made:

Kale Pesto ( so far I have stirred this into pasta, smeared it on grilled salmon, spread it on turkey wraps, and served it with crackers)

Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad -- don't be a hater until you've tried it

Baked Rigatoni with Sausage, Kale and Squash  -- perhaps a bit heavy for hot summer days, but a family and crowd pleaser all winter long

So, off to your favorite farmers market and pick up some Kale. You'll not regret it.

Kale Pesto (adapted from Fifty Shades of Kale)

2 C kale leaves, stems removed, packed
1 C basil leaves, packed
1 t sea salt
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted
2 large garlic cloves (or 3 small) chopped
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese

  • Place kale, basil, salt in food processor. Pulse until kale is finely chopped. About 10 times.
  • With motor running slowly add olive oil
  • Turn off processor and scrape down sides
  • Add walnuts and garlic. Process until fully incorporated.
  • Add cheese and process until combined
Keeps for a few weeks in the fridge. Or freeze in small containers or ice cube trays for later use.

Kale and Brussel Sprout Salad with Walnut Dressing

1 bunch Kale ( tuscan or baby are best)
5 t walnut oil
sea salt
4 brussel sprouts
1 large garlic clove
1 T rice wine vinegar
1 t soy sauce
1/4 C walnut pieces, toasted
chives for garnish

  • Remove kale leaves from stems. Stack leaves and roll tightly, then slice into narrow strips.
  • Place kale in a salad bowl with 1 t of walnut oil. Massage leaves with your hands or tongs until fully coated. Set aside.
  • Remove tough outer leaves from brussel sprouts, and slice in half. Then thinly slice and add to kale leaves. Massage leaves again.
  • Crush the garlic with 1/8 t salt in mortar until smooth. Whisk in vinegar, remaining oil  and soy sauce.
  • Pour dressing over salad, and garnish with walnuts and chives.

Baked Rigatoni with Sausage, Squash, and Kale   

1 1/2 lb butternut squash (2 medium), peeled and cut ; or purchase 1 1lb pre-peeled and cut squash -- easy to find and so much easier than cutting it yourself!
1 Tbsp olive oil
6-8 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 tsp salt, divided
Coarse ground black pepper
1 lb Italian sweet sausage, removed from casings, or grilled whole, then cut into 1/2" chunks*
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 bunch of kale, washed, stems removed and roughly chopped
8 oz uncooked rigatoni
2 C half and half
1/2 C low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 C finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 C breadcrumbs -- regular or panko
Additional cheese for topping

* if you like a little heat, try using 1/2 sweet and 1/2 hot italian sausage

  • Preheat over to 400º. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Lightly oil 13x9 baking dish.
  • Toss together squash, oil, thyme, 1/4 tsp salt and pepper on a large baking sheet. Roast 20-25 minutes, until squash is tender, but not mushy. Discard thyme

  • Reduce oven temp to 375º.
    • If removing sausage from casings: Place sausage and fennel seeds in a large heavy pot; cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to break up sausage, until meat is no longer pink. Remove sausage and drain all but about 1 T of oil.. (If using grilled sausage pieces, add fennel in next step)
    • Return pot to stove; lover heat to medium. Add kale and garlic; saute until kale is wilted, 3-5 minutes. Ad 1/4 tsp salt and pepper. 
    • Turn off heat and return sausage to pot.
    • Cook pasta in boiling water, 2 minutes less than pkg directions. Drain well. Toss with sausage mixture. 
    • Add half and half, chicken broth and half the cheese. Gently toss. 
    • Transfer to baking pan, top with breadcrumbs and remaining cheese. (If making in advance, cool to room temperature, cover and place in refrigerator).
    • Bake 25 minutes until heated through and crusty on top. Serves 8.

    Pulled Turkey Barbeque Sliders -- a light alternative to "the other white meat"

    Yes, I know I have posted this recipe before but this is one of my all time favorite recipes. Always a crowd pleaser, I have been making and tweaking it for over 15 years now, and I have made some recent changes that kick it up a notch.  It is great for a crowd -- at a Crab Feast, a Tailgate or on the Fourth of July. It fills a slider roll as well as a tortilla, and stands on its own just fine along side some slaw. It freezes well too, making it a perfect option for busy weeknight dinners once your fall activities heat up.

    This is a vinegar based bbq , and not very saucy. Feel free to serve it with your favorite bottled sauce or Sriracha on the side, if that suits your taste, and don't hesitate to do your own tweaking.

    Pulled Turkey Barbeque

    2 large vidalia onions, chopped
    1 large garlic clove, chopped
    2 C cider vinegar
    1/2 stick unsalted butter
    1/2 C ketchup
    3 T Worcestershire Sauce
    1 t liquid smoke
    1 chili in adobo sauce
    1 T salt
    1/2 T freshly ground black pepper
    5 1bs turkey pieces ( legs, thighs, etc. or one bone-in breast)*

    *using bone-in, skin on meat will greatly enhance the overall flavor

    • Place onions, garlic, vinegar, butter, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, chili in adobo. S&P in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.
    • Add turkey pieces and cook on low heat for 2-2 1/2 hours. 
    • Remove turkey from pan and set aside until cool enough to handle
    • Cool sauce for 15 minutes, or so, and then puree in batches in a blender. Be sure to leave the hole in the top of blender lid open or you will have a hot mess!
    • Remove skin from turkey and pull meat from the bones.
    • At this point, I often refrigerate the sauce and meat overnight. The next day, skim the fat off the sauce (if desired) and continue the recipe as described below.... 
    • Return pulled turkey and sauce to a large heavy saucepan, stirring to coat the meat with sauce
    • Simmer over low heat for 1 - 1 1/2 hours. Adjust seasoning to taste (you may want to add some hot sauce, more liquid smoke, S&P).
    Serve on slider buns with cole slaw.