Category Archives: kale

Sausage Kale Mushroom (Pasta)

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Hey, y’all. Been a while, again.

This is one of those throw-together-and-eat-it kind of meals, which I love for weeknight dinners. Find the right combination of foods, and throw it over some pasta. Or, throw it on something else. One of the beauties of cooking is finding ways to make something you love new again.

Sausage, kale, and mushrooms are a good hearty combination that (with some onions too, in most cases, and perhaps a few other additions as noted) play well in many formats. I also added beans, because I had them and why not; and, it means I need a little less meat to make a full meal—which is always a goal of mine (without sacrificing flavor, of course).

Might I suggest:
-Pizza (put on a little white sauce, or just some olive oil first)
-Tart or galette (add an egg if you need a little more of a filling for a tart)
-Tacos or tostados (add a little hot sauce or salsa and maybe a sprinkle of cheese and you’re all set)
-Over pasta, or in lasagna, ravioli, or tortellini (for filled pastas you may have to mash it up a little more and add an egg to make a real filling)
-Over other starches, like rice or potatoes (or stuffed into squash, as noted here)
-In a sandwich (probably more like a hoagie roll) with onions too. And mustard!
-As a crepe filling (add an egg or some cheese)
-Mixed into risotto (again with the cheese)
-In soup
-In an omelette
-On top of salad (I would suggest not cooking the kale for this one, but massaging it and topping with mushrooms and sausage… and probably some cheese and a nice mustard dressing)

Drumroll: all these base suggestions are viable options for a variety of other combinations too! Once you find some ingredients you like together, you’ve got a bunch of possibilities to spin them into a meal.

You already know some good combos—tomato/basil/mozzarella is probably the most classic. My job here is to try to point you to a few more, or come up with unexpected ones.  If you get bored, try these parternerships, scientifically proven to be… interesting, at least (carrot and violet? Not sure I’ve even eaten violets…).

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I had a couple different people send me an article about how Instagramming your food makes it tastes better (the short of it: because it ups the anticipation), which I can appreciate—although even as one who does fanatically take pictures of food, I’m not sure I totally buy in. I take pictures mostly to share my food remotely with other people (which upon reflection is perhaps not very nice, if it makes you drool). But I do get pretty excited about it.

There are other ways to use Instagram to document food trends too—like looking at the geographic representation of #kale posts, and lining that up with food deserts.

I am lucky enough to not live in a food desert, and to have the means to go outside of it even if I did. Not everyone has that opportunity, although it’d be great if they did.

#kale

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Sausage, kale, and mushroom pasta
Andouille sausage, or another kind if you don't like the heat
Kale
Mushrooms, your favorite kind
A few spices: a little chipotle, cumin, some paprika, salt
Pasta

Boil water for pasta. Make sure to add salt.

Cook the sausage first, either grilled, in a hot oven (rimmed pan), or on the stove (I usually do this because it’s the fastest: start with a hot pan, and add a little water at first, covering the pan to help the inside of the sausage cook. After a few minutes, remove the lid and let the water boil off. The sausage should release some juices and you can sear it in the pan).

When water boils for pasta, add the noodles and cook according to directions (al dente). Get a strainer ready in the sink for when the pasta is ready.

While the sausage is cooking, prepare the other ingredients. De-stem the kale (by sliding your first finger and thumb from the base of the stem up), and chop the stems into tiny pieces. Roughly chop the rest of the kale, and chop up the mushrooms (I like longer pieces, not squares). Remove sausage from pan when cooked and add the mushrooms and kale stem pieces (hopefully there is still sausage juice; if not, add a little oil). Sauté for a few minutes until slightly softened, then add the rest of the kale and stir fry for another few minutes. Kale should be tender and mushrooms cooked, not rubbery. Stir in spices, taste, and adjust seasonings.

When pasta is cooked, mix everything together and serve. Would be good with a sprinkling of parmesan, too.

 

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Kale and Sausage Stuffed Delicata

stuffed squash

This was in my CSA newsletter a few weeks ago, and is very worth sharing. I’m sure I’ll make a vegetarian version sometime soon, although the sausage was so, so tasty… Not great timing perhaps, as we just learned (or perhaps were only reminded) that red and processed meats cause cancer. Not a huge surprise. Of course the meat industry says not to discriminate and that meat is an important part of a balanced diet, which although not untrue isn’t a great defense for not cutting down on meat consumption (reading through the double negatives: lobbyists are biased and eat less meat). You can do that after you’ve made this.

I would guess that a pig you could’ve met has less carcinogenic potential than something raised in a factory. At least you can buy organic meat. Old news by now but did you hear about how Bhutan, that tiny Asian country somewhere between India and China, aims to be 100% organic by 2020? Quite a feat, although perhaps less difficult without an entrenched industrial agricultural complex as we have here—even our version of organic has been co-opted. Similar to Maine, Bhutan has small pockets of viable land tucked into mountains and hills, which makes organic and permaculture more cost efficient. Maybe we should start measuring gross domestic happiness too, and we’d get there sooner.

Instead, we live in a country where the idea that diet and the sustainability of the planet are related is too much for us, according to the recent dietary guidelines. Michael Pollan and co have exactly the right idea, we need a national food policy, and as Mark Bittman adds, it would help if we encouraged our political candidates to talk about food. It seems like a no-brainer: food and agriculture in particular has the ability to transcend political boundaries, uniting staunch conservatives and hippie young democrats. I imagine any issue with that much potential voter power to be tantalizing to politicians. But, finding ways for people to work together across party lines is not exactly our current political spirit.

My other great political theory at this point in life is that if we fed everyone delicious food all the time (which is not something that everyone has access to, but that’s a story for another time), they’d be in a more convivial and collaborative spirit. Cooking provides a handy metaphor, by combining various ingredients into something new and more fulfilling than the separate ingredients alone. Here, the sweetness of the squash plays very nicely with the fatty sausage, a little vegetable oomph from the kale, texture from the grain…and salty creaminess is what cheese does best.

I would’ve made this wth rice but ran out, so ended up cooking barley instead, and loved the texture. Use whatever grain suits your fancy, or endures your pantry.

Sausage-stuffed delicata squash
2 or 3 Delicata squash, halved lengthwise 
lb sausage (your choice) 
1 1/2 cups cooked rice, or other grain
A bunch of kale, minced 
One (or more if you like onion) large onion, diced 
Garlic (3 or 4 cloves, minced)
Grated cheddar
Salt, pepper

Cook the rice/grain, if you haven’t already, and chop the onion, garlic, kale.

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Wash squash, cut in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds and guts. Place faceup in a pan or a rimmed baking sheet and add a little water. Start to bake while you prep the other ingredients.

Heat up a pan over medium-high, and brown then cook sausage through. Remove from pan, leaving the drippings, and chop up as fine as desired, or remove from casing. Add onions and garlic to pan and start to cook until slightly translucent, then add kale. When cooked, mix in rice, sausage, and salt and pepper to taste (make sure to taste. You may have extra filling, I doubt it’ll present a huge challenge).

When squash is soft (easily punctured with fork, 20-30 min), remove from oven and fill with stuffing mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and place back in oven, under the broiler if you want it crispy, until cheese is melted.

Remove, serve, and stuff your face.

Bean Squash Kale Chili

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Sometimes you need a good, hearty chili, heavy on the beans. To mix it up from classic tomato-based chili, add squash and kale, and extra garlic (we all know by now that squash and kale go super well together. I put them on pizza, flatbread, in pasta, and evidently in chili). Great with a nice chunk of cornbread on the side (hopefully made with local cornmeal).

I admittedly made this a few months ago when I had a few more fresh vegetables. But still manageable now, if you’ve got kale left, or soon when the farms have it again (the trouble with growing vegetables this time of year is the light, or lack thereof).

Basis for the recipe from Goop (the link keeps changing for some reason so if it doesn’t work and you’re dying to look at it, google “black bean squash chili goop”).

Bean squash chili
1 cup dry beans (any kind you want—black is more traditional, but I used Jacob's cattle beans because I love them and it's what I had)
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
A few diced tomatoes, or 1 small can
Other veggies (like sweet peppers), if you have them
Olive oil
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 hot peppers (chipotle would be best, although not what I had), roughly chopped
1/2 of a small butternut squash
3-4 large leaves of kale, washed and chopped
salt + pepper

Soak the beans overnight, or the morning before cooking them. I also roasted the squash a little bit first—it gives it more flavor, and makes it easier to chop up; but this is pretty flexible. You can either roast it in halves first, until pretty soft, and then scoop out and chop up and add it at the end; peel and chop before roasting (good for flavor but kind of a huge pain) and add at the end (or don’t even roast, and just boil with the beans); or a mix—roast it part way, enough to make it easier to peel, and then either roast the rest of the way or throw in the chili earlier. I did the last, which seemed easiest.

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Chop or mince all the veggies. Heat up your pan with the spices (not salt) and toast them for 30-ish seconds until fragrant (this is the secret to getting the most out of your spices). Then add the oil and sauté for a few minutes, until the veggies are getting soft. Add the beans, and stock (or water), and cook for a while, until beans are starting to get soft. Depending on how much you are pre-cooking the squash, add them at some point (the squash takes about as long to cook as the beans). When both beans and squash are mixed together and basically cooked, add the salt, pepper, and chopped kale pieces. Cook the chili with the kale for a few minutes (it will soften up), taste and adjust seasonings, then serve.

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If you have cilantro, sour cream, or a little cheese, little garnishes are an excellent supplement to any chili. Enjoy!

Kale Sprouts

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I don’t have much to say about these except that I’ve never seen them before and they are amazing! A kale-Brussels sprouts cross that grows on a stalk like Brussels sprouts, with a top of normal kale leaves, and a flavor like the two of them put together. I unfortunately didn’t have the foresight to take a picture before cooking them but you can look it up if you’d like.

I sautéed them with some oil and salt, covered for a bit to make sure they got cooked, and they were fabulous—crispy, with a nice crunch in the center. Throw on some nuts, seeds, and vinegar to make it into a salad/meal, or enjoy as a side (perhaps on a Thanksgiving table? or the surrounding evenings).

I have no words to help you with Thanksgiving, which appears to be a bit of a fiasco in the Internet cooking world. Check out the NYTimes Cooking page if you need help, or talk to relatives who have done it for years (part of the fun is in the tradition, after all). Don’t stress out about it too much (planning ahead does help, I suppose), Thanksgiving should be an occasion to get together with family and friends and enjoy yourself. And yes, good food, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. My favorite holiday: no pressure for gifts, just food and company. Enough to be thankful for.

Roasted Tomato Rice

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Quick! Before the tomatoes all disappear!

Chop them up and roast them (hot oven, with a little olive oil, for at least 20 minutes. Throw in a few whole cloves of garlic too).

This can be done while you are roasting other things. I like to use my oven for more than one thing when it’s on: a pie and root vegetables, crisp and squash, muffins and tomatoes… it saves energy and prevents you from steaming up your house all the time. Also, everything takes time to cook, so it means you have fewer moments hanging around waiting to open your oven. Do be careful not to open the oven door too much when you have a few things in there, though—I’ve heard it loses 10º every time the door opens.

Anyway, back to the tomatoes. (Almost)

After roasting, make some rice. This is another thing that can be done ahead of time. In fact, as a person living alone, I highly recommend making either a large pot of rice, or beans, or lentils, or some combination of the above, at the start of your week. They provide a platform for all your awesome veggies and something to fall back on should you feel less than inspired, or just crunched by time, later in the week. You can do other things to help yourself out during the week—roast a chicken, make granola, bake some bread—this could take up your whole Sunday if you let it. I’ve been getting up early on weekends (habit) and find it’s a good time to do some baking. Then the rest of the day is free to enjoy).

Boil a pot of water and blanch some kale. While you’re at it, blanch a few more of the excess of veggies you got in your CSA and stick them (labeled) in your freezer. If you still have room in there. Grind up the kale (no stems) with a little olive oil.

When you are ready for dinner/office lunch/breakfast (? whatever), throw together rice-roasted tomatoes+garlic-chopped kale-a little pecorino, warm up briefly if necessary, and NOM. I recommend brown rice, it’s got more of a nuttier flavor that adds actually quite a bit to this dish. Honestly it surprised me how much I enjoyed this dinner. All about the tomatoes.

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I forgot the cheese at first… better with it (also half-eaten already)

Kale Pesto

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Well, I’m still behind on posts but I think I’d better post them in the correct order, because some of the ingredients are grouped. Remember the kale butternut squash pizza we made? Well, this is something else to do with your kale, and extra squash if you have it from that.

I realize this is my second pesto recipe in a total of 4 posts. No shame. As I said before, you can put anything in pesto, and it is delicious. I had a friend over the other day to make garlic scape pesto (post coming), and I took out some arugula and kale pesto to do a mini tasting. This one is her favorite. So.

Kale on its own isn’t super flavorful. I like it, and it’s all the craze right now, but I feel like pesto needs a little more pizzazz. However, I had a lot of kale and I still wanted to make pesto; it just required a few more additions: spicy radishes, because I had too many of them too and they add some zing, and the squash I had leftover from the pizza. I guess that’s kind of the way I like to cook – what do I have, how can something delicious come out of it. It’s like a puzzle. Some things don’t work out, but I’m proud of this one.

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Kale Pesto
1 bunch of kale (maybe 3 cups raw)
About 1/2 cup butternut squash, cubed
Maybe 4 radishes (depending on size), washed and in chunks
About 1/3 cup of hard cheese like parmesan, in chunks
3 cloves garlic, cooked in olive oil (15 sec in the microwave or sautéed)
Olive oil
Lemon juice from about 1/4 of a lemon
Salt and pepper

I realized I haven’t yet told you how to strip kale. Hold onto the stem with one hand (I usually use my right), then hold the base where the leaves start between your hand and your thumb (I don’t know what to call that area between your thumb and your first finger). Pull away with your right hand, and the stem should separate easily from the leaves. If that isn’t a good description, which is may not be, here’s a video that does basically the same thing. I like using the stem (because why throw it out when you can eat it), you just have to start cooking it before adding the leaves. It helps to chop it up first (this is true generally as well as for pesto).

I blanched the kale before adding it – I think you could probably make pesto with raw kale (depending on variety), but blanching makes it a little more tender. To do this, boil and salt water, and put the kale in (stems first for a few minutes by themselves) and boil it for anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes, just until it is tender. Be ready with an ice bath, or just some cold tap water to run over it (I can’t be bothered to get out an extra bowl and besides, I didn’t have any ice) to stop it cooking.

P1010555Once the kale is cool, combine all the ingredients in a food processor (see Arugula Pesto to hear me rave about my Kitchen-Aid hand blender food processor). Process, scraping down the sides a few times. Taste and adjust ratios as you see fit.

I highly recommend this in a cheese melt (bread-pesto-cheese-oven). It is also delicious on pasta, like most pestos. Not bad mixed with arugula pesto, actually. Half the extra goes in the fridge for the week, the rest in the freezer for the winter. Although you could make this when it is not summer as well, unlike other pestos.

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Kale, Butternut Squash, and Red Onion Pizza

Making pizza by oneself is not difficult, but it always takes a little more time than I want it to. Don’t let that dissuade you, though, because pizza makes the best lunch at the office ever, and you’ll have enough for the whole week. Most of the time-sink comes from prepping all the ingredients before you start, and the crust. Once you have everything mise en place (put in place), the fun of putting it together begins.

This pizza (which is inspired by an asiago-squash-kale pizza served in my college dining hall) is great because you can pretty much make it from local ingredients most of the year. Kale is very hardy and can grow in unheated greenhouses through late fall and in spring in Maine (probably one of the reasons for the Eat More Kale trend). And winter squash keeps for a long time in cold storage, so although it is a fall crop, you might still have some through early spring. The red onion I bought at the grocery store, but onions also keep well for a long time.

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The crust requires the most planning, meaning that you can’t just decide an hour before dinner to make pizza. I have a sourdough starter I’ve been using (more on this in a future post on bread), so I made a sourdough pizza dough from King Arthur Flour’s website, but they also have a regular crust recipe. I like King Arthur Flour a lot – it’s a good product, they have nice recipes, and the company is also a Benefit or B-Corporation, which means that they accept social and environmental responsibility even as a for-profit corporation (other B-Corps include Ben & Jerry’s, Method soap, and Cabot cheese). Although I’ve also been trying to include Maine flour, which comes to the store through the Crown O’ Maine cooperative, who are trying to better distribute Maine products around the region.

You can also often buy pizza crust at the grocery store, which is good if you are short on time. Since there are good recipes linked here, I won’t restate  them, and if I work on my own pizza crust recipe, I’ll put that in a future post (my Italian uncle says use bread flour and a cold rise overnight).

The hard part about pizza crusts is rolling them out properly. I’ve had fairly good luck just rolling them out with a rolling pin (or an empty, washed wine bottle if you don’t have a rolling pin), but if you roll it too much it can get tough. So, my recommended method thus far in my pizza-making experience is based off of King Arthur’s: to make is as flat as possible with your hands in the air first, then put it on a cornmeal-dusted sheet and push out to the sides. Take a break halfway through and then continue, it will be stretchier. This takes a fair bit of time but it gets the crust nice and thin, which is what I like (I’ve tried waving it around in the air like a Fancy Pizza Man but I inevitably end up with a bunch of holes in the dough and a very uneven height. Oh well, keep practicing). King Arthur recommends pre-baking the crust a bit, and I did do that for this pizza mostly because I don’t have a pizza stone to make the bottom of the crust all crispy. Something else to add to the Kitchen Wishlist.

Kale, Squash, and Red Onion Pizza
Pizza crust (see above)
1 small winter squash (or about 1 1/2 cups of squash, cubed in 1/2 inch pieces)
Olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
About 2 cups kale, washed and chopped
1/2 red onion, minced
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 cup tomme or asiago
Salt and pepper and other herbs

The squash will take the longest, but can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator for a few days if you want to prepare it early. Or maybe you have extra squash from something else and you need something to do with it. Anyway, cut it in half, scoop out the guts and seeds (which can be washed and roasted like pumpkin seeds if you like) and then into wide slices (maybe 8 pieces per half). This will require a sharp knife and some elbow grease. Roast in the oven at 400ºF for at least 30 minutes, probably longer, until soft (so you can poke it with a knife), but not squishy. Remove, let cool, and then peel the skin off. Cut into about 1/2 inch chunks. You will have extra, so just put it in a container in your fridge to eat by itself or add to something like kale pesto (coming soon).

Once the crust is rolled out (don’t forget the cornmeal so it doesn’t stick) and pre-baked if you like (see above), you are ready! I made two medium pizzas from the dough. Drizzle olive oil on the crust and spread the garlic on top (this is a very light sauce. If you want more, you could make a béchamel sauce by melting butter, mixing in flour, adding a little milk and cooking it down before spreading it on the crust). Top with red onion, kale, squash, mozzarella, then the tomme/asiago and some salt and pepper (I left this out of the first one and it makes a big difference). I also threw on some fresh oregano from my fridge. I like that order because the kale can cook a little more under the other toppings and the cheese gets all crispy on top, but if you prefer crispy kale and softer cheese, reverse it.

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Ugh, blurry again. Sorry.

Bake in an oven that is as hot as you can make it (real pizza ovens get up to 800ºF or higher but mine only gets to 500ºF) for about 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and crispy and the crust is nice and brown, even on the bottom.

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Slice and enjoy! Best hot. Slice up the leftovers (it is rather easier to cut when cold) and wrap them up to take to work or put in your fridge for another dinner (I recommend a toaster oven for warm-up rather than a microwave, to keep it crispy). Careful when taking them out because the toppings might slide off the crust.