Tag 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 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.