Sometimes unplanned dishes are the most delicious (Ooh, a rhyme!). And sometimes making pasta for dinner is actually an excuse to eat kale.
Kale, chard, mustard greens, and all their green friends are new in our fridge, on our table, in our hearts, and now also in our backyard (more about it later). Those are ingredients I have added to our foods only about a year ago. Until that point in time, I’ve never heard or known anyone who ate them. Well, actually, in our close circle of family and friends I still don’t know of anyone who eats them besides us.
Although I have experimented a lot and tried many new dishes and cuisines with their ingredients, those leafy greens were left untouched. As I read more and more food books and magazines I kept seeing them again and again but I still was not convinced. They just looks so… unappetizing. A type of “healthy food” I thought doesn’t taste good and no one really wants to eat and so it is being marketed as “healthy” so someone will buy them.
For example, about 2 years ago I saw a lady at the grocery store at the leafy greens section. She piled 10-15 bunches of the stuff into her cart. Curious, I went and asked her how does she cook them. A bit embarrassed, she replied: “ Oh, I don’t eat them. I buy them for my rabbits”. And added “the rabbits seem to prefer the mustard greens”. Ooops.
Finally, I got brave enough, or was it bored enough with the food we ate, to give them a try. I cooked them simply in salty boiling water for 4 minutes, let them cool then chopped them, and added them to the Creamy Orecchiette. Everything has changed at that moment. Surprise, surprise, they were delicious! (Right, Vicki?) Same experience as we had with Brussels sprouts (here and here).
I find the cooked leafy greens’ flavor to be mild even and a bit sweet and tender with a touch of savory. We now love them so much that I don’t care if they are healthy or not. We just plain love them. The kids… are a different story, but then they don’t show mercy for a 5 star dinner either for that matter. Oh, well, at least when they grow up they will be able to say “our mom cooked these when we were kids and we hated them. But now we love ‘em!”
The general guidelines:
I usually use the cooked greens as a simple side dish that soaks the sauce of the entree or I add them to any pasta dish. After taking the cooked pasta out of the water with a slotted spoon or tongs, reserving the water in the pot, I add the washed and torn away from the rib leafy greens (ribs discarded) into the boiling salted water and cook them for about 4 minutes.
Take them out, rinse ‘em in cold water (or shock in ice water) and when they are cool enough to handle, I squeeze the water out of them, chop them a bit, and add to the dish. Toss together, and that’s it. Simple and quick, tasty and… healthy. “Healthy” is not a bad word, is it?!
One year ago: Cowboy Cookies, Wild salmon with sweet fennel butter, Leftovers: Mashed potatoes turned into Light-as-a-feather potato pancakes, Thanksgiving-y Chicken Dinner, A simple yet delicious fall stew
In this dish I had a chance to use some of our last home-made tomatoes from the backyard. Conclusions about this little adventure of building a raised veggie bed in the backyard will be posted soon.
Like most of my last-minute dinner ideas, this is not an exact recipe and there’s plenty of room to improvise. You can use more or less of everything as you like or have in handy, use any ravioli you find at the store, there’s pumpkin filling, cheese, spinach, etc. I’m just into mushrooms lately so I bought the ravioli mushroom filling.
Wild mushroom ravioli with kale and cream
Makes 4-6 servings
1 bunch kale, washed, leaves removed from the central rib
2-3 tablespoons butter
2 cups mushrooms (I used crimini), washed and sliced (without the “leg”)
black pepper, ground
1/4 – 1/3 cup heavy cream
1 package store bought wild mushrooms ravioli
1 handful cherry tomatoes
grated parmesan for serving
In a medium size pot, bring water to a boil to cook the pasta. When it boils, add 2-3 tablespoons of salt.
While the water is coming to a boil, take a large skillet and melt butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté without disturbing much until they are nicely browned. Season with salt and pepper. Lower the heat and add the cream, keep it simmering gently (or turn the heat of if your water is still not boiling).
Back to the pasta, cook the ravioli according to the instructions on the package. When they are cooked, remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon, reserving the water!, and add to the skillet with the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper.
Throw the kale into the pot where the pasta cooked. Cook them for 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon or tongs, rinse quickly under cold water. Squeeze the water out, chop, and add to the skillet with the mushrooms and pasta, toss gently. Add the tomatoes and grate parmesan on top. That’s it.