Posts tagged kale

Greened

[Recipe: Roasted Greens]

I just downed a couple snack-sized boxes of Hot Tamales still haunting me from Halloween (they keep well, apparently). As part of my penance, I feel compelled to tell you about my new freakishly healthy snack.

This one is for all you savory cravers out there. Sometimes salty and hearty are called for over sweet.

I learned to roast greens from Lynne Rossetto Kasper (not personally, of course; I learned from her most recent cookbook, but you know how it is with Lynne — she’s so warm it all seems personal). I loved greens before — the chards, the kales, the collards and every leafy thing in between — but roasting them somehow concentrates and heightens their flavors, and brightens their complexity. It even renders them a little bit crispy in places. Yes, the word succulent would not be overstating the matter.

I’ve roasted them with cubed winter squash to toss with farfalle and a little Parm, and have done the same with golden beets over Israeli couscous.

Now, I can’t get enough, so it’s a good thing they’re quick and easy to make. Just heat your oven to 425 degrees and grab a baking sheet. Rinse your greens really well and chop, toss them with a little extra virgin olive oil (flavored ones are especially yummy), some salt and pepper, maybe a clove or two of minced garlic and some red pepper flakes. Spread the greens on the baking sheet and roast for about ten minutes, then stir them around. If they’re not done to your liking yet, put them back in the oven for 5 or 10 minutes more. When they’re good and wilty and crispy in spots, scrape them into a bowl and serve. For an extra punch, toss with a teaspoon of red wine vinegar or a bit of lemon juice just before serving.

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My dinner in bullet points

Here’s what those recipe writers don’t tell you:

  • that even though you’ve worked a bean-soaking into your busy afternoon, those three batches of organic [read: dirty] kale will take a good twenty minutes to rinse clean and strip from their ribs;
  • that you’ll turn on the smaller oven in order to reheat the farmhouse loaf, only to find the loaf is too tall, requiring you to heat up the larger oven after all;
  • that the smashed red potatoes will require a sum of three pans — one for boiling, one for frying, and one bakesheet for holding the first batch warm in the smaller oven until the stuck-in-traffic husband arrives home (good thing you erroneously warmed the smaller oven in the first place).

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They certainly don’t tell you that, by the time dinner’s finally ready (a good 45 minutes after your intended time), you will have dirtied the following:

  • 2 saucepans (1 medium, 1 large)
  • 1 stock pot
  • 1 extra-large frying pan (used twice: once for the kale, second for the potatoes)
  • 2 bakesheets (one for holding the kale while the potatoes cook; the other for holding the first batch of potatoes while the second batch cooks)
  • 1 small Cuisinart bowl & its blade (for pureeing the beans)
  • the underside of a ramekin (for smashing the potatoes)
  • 2 spatulas
  • one cutting board
  • one garlic press
  • one bread knife
  • one grater (for Romano with which to dust the potatoes)
  • and an assembly of little bowls

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And the last thing they don’t tell you: That by the time the husband arrives and you get around to sitting down to dinner (you have roughly 15 minutes to eat, mind you, since you have to leave shortly for a class) he will grace you with the irony of your 2-hour kale and Christmas lima bruschetta served with smashed Romano-dusted potatoes.

He will call it beans on toast.

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Squash pusher

[Recipe: Sweet Roasted Butternut Squash & Kale over Farfalle]

I admit it: When it comes to the story of dinner, I’m prone to burying the lede where squash is involved.

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The question comes, inevitably, from my girls somewhere around 4:30 p.m., and they want all five ‘Ws’: “Mom, what’s for dinner?” I hype the least-offensive ingredients: The “butterfly” pasta part (farfalle, for you purists), the Parmesan cheesy part, whatever other parts won’t push their noses up into disapproving wrinkles. I put off mentioning the squash part somewhere toward the end, because I know what protests will ensue. And I don’t want to hear it.

Maybe I should just get it over with, bad news first, good news second style. Start with a shrug, end with a song.

Yes, squash can be bad news around here. I may love it, heart and soul, for its versatility and color, for its long list of nutrients, but my girls are rightly skeptical: I remember how much I disliked squash as a kid. So much that ‘disliked’ is a pretty rich euphemism.

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This winter, though, I issued myself a challenge: Find new ways to prepare squash that my girls will actually enjoy. I wanted to work a little motherly magic (is there such a thing?) in favor of getting them hooked on squash.

Winter’s nearly over and while they’re not quite hooked, their feelings about squash are now more reserved than skeptical. That, for me, is a triumph, one that followed the path of maple-soy glazed acorn squash and spaghetti squash pancakes.

This recipe, though, was the hands-down winner. This is the one that sealed the deal.

Sweet Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale over Farfalle

adapted from The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper, by Lynne Rosetto Kasper & Sally Swift

While plenty of squash varieties would work here, so would other greens. The original recipe calls for escarole or curly endive. It also calls for half-and-half, but I didn’t have that on hand and so saved about a half cup of the pasta water to coat the pasta with instead. The result was still full and plenty rich.

For the vegetables:

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 medium onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 bunch kale, washed, dried and torn into small pieces
1/3 C tightly packed fresh basil leaves, torn
16 large fresh sage leaves, torn
5 garlic cloves, coarse chopped
1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil
1 packed tbsp brown sugar (I’m using Billington’s)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pasta:
1 lb farfalle (bow-tie pasta)
1 C shredded Parmesan or Asiago cheese

Place a large sheet pan in the oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss together all ingredients for the vegetables (butternut squash through salt and pepper). (Lynne says be generous with the S&P — I agree.) Carefully turn the squash blend onto the pre-heated sheet pan and spread it out. Roast for 25 minutes, or until squash is tender, turning two or three times during roasting.

During the last 15 minutes or so of roasting time, cook pasta until tender but not soft, reserving about a half a cup of the pasta water.

When the squash is tender, turn on the broiler. Watch the vegetables closely and turn pieces often with a spatula, removing them from the oven when the squash is dark golden brown and the greens are near crisp.

Scrape vegetables into a serving bowl. Add some of the pasta water, the cooked pasta, and cheese. Stir to blend, adding more pasta water or salt and pepper as needed.

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