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.

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