The fall is the best time to buy greens from a grocery market or farmers’ market. Some leafy greens cook very quickly. Spinach is the best example. But others, like kale, are more hearty and need a longer time to cook. Dark green, leafy vegetables are nutritional powerhouses filled with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Is is good idea to include them in your recipes, often. Here are some of my favorite ways to cook them.
Lacinato kale (called cavolo nero, literally “black cabbage”, in Italian and often in English) is a variety of kale with a long tradition in Italian cuisine, especially that of Tuscany. It is also known as Tuscan kale, Tuscan cabbage, Italian kale, dinosaur kale, black kale, flat back cabbage, palm tree kale, or black Tuscan palm. Lacinato kale has been grown in Tuscany for centuries and is one of the traditional ingredients of minestrone and ribollita. It is also readily available in my market.
Tuscan Kale, Roasted Chicken and Lemon Sauce
- 2 large bone-in chicken breasts
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
- 1/2 medium onion, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 bunches Tuscan kale, center ribs and stems removed, leaves cut into 1″ strips
- Simple Lemon sauce, recipe below
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the chicken breasts in a medium baking dish, drizzle with the 1 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with the Italian seasoning. Bake for 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Place the kale in a large pot, add the 2 tablespoons olive oil, onion, minced garlic and simmer over very low heat until the kale is wilted completely.
Continue to cook until the kale and onions are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Place the kale on a serving platter, top with the roasted chicken and serve the lemon sauce on the side.
Simple Savory Lemon Cream Sauce
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons. flour
- 1 cup milk
- ¼ up. white wine
- Zest of one lemon
- Juice of ½ lemon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Pinch of pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley or other herbs
Melt the butter over medium heat in a skillet, add the flour and whisk for about a minute. Add the milk and wine. Remove the pan from the heat and add the seasonings, lemon zest and lemon juice.
Return the pan to the heat and whisk until thick and creamy, about another minute or two. Pour over vegetables, chicken or fish.
Rapini (Broccoli rabe)
Pasta With Greens and Ricotta Cheese
Paccheri a type of pasta in the shape of a very large tube that originated from Campania and Calabria, Italy. They are generally smooth, but there is also a ribbed version, paccheri millerighe.
They can be served stuffed or with just a sauce.
- 2 bunches greens, such as chard, kale or broccoli raab (rapini), washed well and cut into 2 inch lengths.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, or a mixture of Parmesan and Romano Pecorino
- 1 pound paccheri, pappardelle or orecchiette pasta
Heat the oil and garlic in a large skillet over very low heat.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When the water comes to a boil, salt it generously and add the greens. After the water returns to a boil, boil for about 3 minutes until the greens are tender.
Using a deep-fry skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer the rapini to the skillet. Toss in the hot pan for about a minute, just until the greens are lightly coated with oil and fragrant with garlic.
Season with salt and pepper.
Do not drain the hot water in the pot, as you’ll use it to cook the pasta.
Place the ricotta in a large pasta bowl.
Bring the water for the pasta back to a boil, and add the pasta. Cook al dente. Ladle 1/2 cup of the cooking water from the pasta into the ricotta and stir together.
Drain the pasta and add it to the bowl with the ricotta. Add the grated Parmesan and toss with the ricotta and greens. Serve at once.
Spinach and Cheese Pizza
- 1 lb pizza dough, at room temperature
- 1 bunch spinach, stemmed and washed well
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for the pizza pan
- Half of a medium onion sliced
- 8 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Oil a pizza pan.
Heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet and add the garlic and onions. Cook until the onion is tender. Add the spinach and cook just until it wilts.
Season with salt and pepper. Set the skillet aside.
Press the pizza dough to the edges of the pan.
Top the dough with the sliced mozzarella and spread the ricotta over the mozzarella. Distribute the spinach mixture evenly over the ricotta and sprinkle with feta.
Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.