Space Coyote?

Spicy Chard with Ginger Sauté 

Find your soulmate, Homer.

Find your soulmate, Homer.

Kale with Tomato, Garlic, and Thyme Sauté

Kale turns out to be delicious once you boil the weird out of it.

Kale turns out to be delicious once you boil the weird out of it.

Beet Greens with Bacon

points for bacon and pasta...

points for bacon and pasta…

On page 22-23 of this magazine, there are four sautés.  They just kind of look like blobs of dark green stuff, so it’s difficult to tell at first glance what you’re supposed to do with the “in season winter greens” pictured.  Just eat them?  A quick glance at the under 100 calorie nutrition information for all of them should tell you that, no…you’ll starve.  In steps the bubble on page 23.  It states, “Enjoy the sautés as sides, toss with pasta for a main course (the chard’s great with Asian noodles), or serve on crostini.”  I said, “Ok, bubble.  I’ll buy it.”  So I made the kale, the beet greens, and the chard.

I’m going to get the less than awesome experiences out of the way first so I can end on a high note.  Ok.  The bubble said (and when has a bubble ever lied to me?) that the chard is great with Asian noodles.  I still had a good amount of rice noodles in the pantry from the beef salad way back when.  I asked for suggestions on how to get these things out of my house, internet, and the silence was deafening.  Deafening.  Either we are all at a loss for what to do with rice noodles or someone has the secret and she’s keeping it from me.  *narrows her eyes…*  Easy peasy, I’ll toss the spicy chard with ginger sauté with the rice noodles.  Here’s the important word in that recipe that you must pay attention to: “spicy.”  The recipe has two sliced jalapeños in it.  There’s no mention of seeding them, removing the ribs, or anything.  That’s two jalapeños and to balance that out?… chard and ginger.  Fun fact about chard and ginger: they do jack squat to cool down jalapeños.  I made this recipe as written and it was physically painful to eat.  And I love spicy food.  I put it on the rice noodles thinking, “Here we go.  The noodles will cool it down.”  Nope.  At this point, it was either throw it out or start doctoring it.

Paging Dr. P. Nutbutter!

I added a pretty considerable amount of peanut butter to the sauté.  Maybe a 1/4 cup.  It was still spicy, but not punishing.  As the final touch, I served it with diced mangoes and pineapple on the side.  Finally, after all that, we ate dinner.  Whew!

The upside: if you’re going to make this recipe, I highly recommend making a peanut butter-based sauce to put on top.  I added a 1/4 cup of peanut butter.  I could also see a mixture of peanut butter, sesame oil, and rice wine vinegar, not unlike my beloved Sesame Noodles.  You will also want to serve this on noodles.  I also recommend serving it with a cooling side.  If I did this again, frankly, I would also use only one jalapeño and take out the seeds and ribs.  Or coat your mouth with wax like Homer does before he eats the Guatemalan insanity peppers.  Upside to that plan, you get to meet a space coyote.

Then there’s the beet greens with bacon, which has the opposite problem.  It’s pretty boring.  Maybe the problem is that I tried to make all of these sautees into main dishes when this one should really just be a side dish.

With that out of the way, we have an unqualified winner of a recipe to report: Kale with Tomato, Garlic, and Thyme.  This one is as quick and easy as it is delicious.  Sauté some veggies, boil some kale, boil some pasta (I think I might have used the same water), and toss it with salt, pepper, and oil.  C’mon!  Also, with the nice garlic and thyme, plus the intense green flavor of the kale, this prevents this recipe from becoming one of those dreaded Everyday Food pasta with no sauce recipes.

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Unimpressive pastas

Whole-wheat pasta with kale and fontina

Fork desperately seeking bacon

Fork desperately seeking bacon

Tortellini in broth with escarole

Yay...

Yay…

I’ve got to say right off the bat how hilarious and fitting it is that I got a picture of both of these in their leftover containers.  They were so forgettable that I didn’t even remember to take a picture. Well, I had company over for the first one, so I was a little distracted.  But still.  Those pictures sum this up quite nicely.  I didn’t even plan it like that.

Everyday Food has a bad habit of including recipes for pasta dishes that don’t really have a sauce, they just have some ingredients to top the pasta and some directions about using reserved pasta water and the residue from other ingredients to “coat the pasta.”  These recipes are almost always disappointing.  These two were prime examples.

Take the whole-wheat pasta with kale and fontina.  It has bacon and garlic in it.  It’s got kale.  It’s got cheese.  Okee doke, right?  Eh, not really.  The kale, bacon, and cheese kind of clumped together, so those bites where you got those were amazing, but all of the other bites were just a mouthful of wet noodles.  Not great.  I did appreciate that this recipe used chicken broth instead of water.  That definitely gave it more flavor than the “add reserved pasta water” recipes.  And it gets points for bacon.  This one gets a B-.

Before I move on, I should mention that this recipe was made so D could carbo-load for the marathon.  Go D!  Run run go fast!

The tortellini in broth with escarole gets a C.  It too uses chicken broth instead of water and, again, that’s a good thing.  But it is otherwise just a glorified soup.  Broth and bay leaf, escarole (I could only find kale), and cheese tortellini.  It’s not bad.  It’s just average.

Bears Love Kale

Sausages with Kale and White Beans

www.marthastewart.com/338211/sausages-with-kale-and-white-beans

September 2007, pg. 98

This bear I live with loves kale. He has decided that there is no better food for bears than kale. And so, I have to eat lots of kale whether I like it or not. As it happens, I have made variations on this dish a number of times. Usually I make it in the super-lazy-everything-in-one-pot pasta method which involves ground sausage instead of fat little links.

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As it turns out this recipe made a nice change for serving. See how pretty?

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This recipe was such a hit that the bear has demanded I make kale in this method at least once a week since I first made it – I don’t include the sausage when I am making it as a side dish. The white wine vinegar adds an excellent tang that in the past I tried to get by using lemon juice. The one exception I made with this recipe was adding about a cup of chicken broth during the wilting phase. It’s something I carried over from my previous kale and pasta adventures and I think it just makes it a little more savory. I would say that I would keep this recipe on hand for the future, but it is so easy and I have already made it so many times I have it memorized!

AND (bonus!) by keeping it all separate from the pasta we were serving it on, I was able to turn the leftovers into a pretty tasty soup the next day. I had to add more kale, of course, but I just used a box of the frozen stuff which seems to be a decent soup alternative. Basically, I diced up carrots, onions, and celery and cooked them over medium heat until they softened a bit, then I added in the remaining sausages which I had diced up and added in that box of frozen kale and another can of cannellini beans followed by enough chicken stock to cover everything. And voila, soup!!!

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Yep, this one is a keeper for sure. Next, I’ll be making Turkey and Vegetable Hand Pies and Garlic-Roasted Tomatoes!