Monday, July 16, 2012

Macaroni and cheese with kale

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I have a theory about kale: Add it to any recipe and your recipe automatically qualifies as health food.

Even macaroni and cheese.

I made an unexpected discovery the day I added shredded sauteed kale to a pan of gooey, creamy macaroni and cheese: I actually liked the mac and cheese more with kale in it.

It might be because I felt somewhat more virtuous about eating it. It did taste awfully good, though. I'm going through a "where have you been all my life?" phase with kale. It's seeing a lot of play in my kitchen lately.

What do you put in your macaroni and cheese? ('cause I know you can't just play it straight...)

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Macaroni and cheese with kale
Add kale to any dish and it automatically qualifies as health food - right? Besides, shredded kale actually makes macaroni and cheese tastier.
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale (also called dinosaur kale)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 pound whole wheat macaroni, penne or ziti
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 3 cups milk (whole, lowfat or fat-free)
  • 4 cups white cheddar cheese, shredded (or substitute gruyere, fontina or any combination of cheese you prefer)
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs
Strip the kale leaves from their stems and cut the kale leaves into very fine ribbons. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the kale. Saute the kale about 6-8 minutes or until significantly wilted. Set aside.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Fill a large pot with water, add the salt, and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook 2 minutes less than the package directions. You want the pasta very al dente because it will continue to cook in the oven. Drain the pasta and put it into a large mixing bowl. While you're cooking the pasta, drop the butter into a medium saucepan. When the butter is melted, add the flour and whisk together to make a roux. Cook the butter-flour mixture about 1 minute to get rid of the raw flour taste, then slowly start adding the milk, whisking constantly. Bring the milk mixture to a simmer, making sure there are no lumps (the more you whisk, the fewer lumps you'll have). Add the shredded cheese and whisk until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and mix well. Add the kale and a generous amount of pepper and stir again. Spray a large baking pan with cooking spray (9x13 works, or any casserole dish that looks to be the right size). Turn the pasta mixture into the baking dish and sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top.Bake the macaroni and cheese about 40 minutes, until the casserole is bubbly and the breadcrumbs are nicely browned. Serve immediately.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8-10 servings


Anonymous said...

Mac and cheese with kale is the California cousin to the South's popular BBQ side pairing of collards with mac and cheese. Tasty California Soul Food by Erika!

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

I usually just play it straight. I do like to add different cheeses and usually have at least three different kinds.

The kale looks like a lovely idea!!

Kathleen said...

I had the same experience with kale a few years ago. I cooked it for the first time and thought "a green that doesn't shrink down to nothing? Hooray!" I put it in vegetarian stews, we eat it with chick peas and garlic over pasta, and I even use it instead of spinach with paneer. Delicious!

Valentina said...

this looks delicious. i agree, kale makes it healthy! :-D

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