Miz Chef

Cooking Up a Healthy Life


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Butternut-Kale Soup

So, after I made Butternut-Black Bean Tacos last week, I had some butternut squash left over. There were many things I could have done with it, but after finding a beautiful head of kale, I decided to make butternut and kale soup.

This soup is packed with nutrients and it’s just plain delicious. Enjoy. Continue reading


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Tuscan Kale-Bean Soup with Fregola

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Tuscan Kale

Tuscan kale is a beautiful specimen of the kale family. The leaves are long and dainty looking, and look really pretty in a garden. But like standard kale, the leaves are hearty and the stems tough. Thick stems should be cut off and the leaves need to cook for a substantial amount of time (versus greens such s spinach or chard, which cook down in a few minutes).

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Whole Wheat Penne with Kale Pesto

IMG_6035When people hear the word pesto, it conjures up images of big bowls of fragrant pesto, bulbs of fresh garlic, and creamy pignoli nuts. (Doesn’t that make your mouth water?) As good as that combination is, pesto has crossed boundaries into new territory. These days, pesto can be made with a variety of ingredients.

I made this pesto with kale. Kale is great to use for pesto because not only is raw kale packed with nutrients, but it’s a sturdy vegetable that holds up very well against the blade of a processor or blender, and it’s flavorful enough to really give a sauce some heft and legitimacy.

But rather than process the greens with raw garlic, as you would with traditional pesto, I sautéed some white onion and garlic in olive oil and added that to the kale. It gave the pesto some sweetness and cut down on the sharpness that the raw garlic would give it. Of course, that sharpness is what many people love about pesto, but the thing about kale is that it’s a heavier, stronger flavor than basil and it can stand to be mellowed out a bit. I also added a handful of cooked green beans to soften the sauce further. But after all is said and done, this is still a flavorful, hearty sauce. You can use it on meats and fish, spread it in sandwiches, or add it to soups, as you would a pistou. For this recipe, I used it with whole wheat penne.

Give it a try. If you like pesto, I think you’ll really enjoy this.

Whole Wheat Penne with Kale Pesto

Makes 4 servings.

2 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup chopped white onion
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
4 cups kale
½ cup cooked green beans
½ teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cups whole wheat penne
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Asiago

Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Remove from heat.IMG_6015Place the kale in a food processor or blender.

IMG_6018Add the onion and string beans, salt, and pepper. Begin processing.

IMG_6020Feed the extra virgin olive oil through the feed tube and process until finely minced.

IMG_6023If necessary, stop the machine, scrape down the sides, and continue processing. It should only take a minute or two.

IMG_6028Bring a medium pot of water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain well and transfer to a bowl. Mix in the pesto. Divide between 4 bowls, sprinkle the cheese on top, and serve.IMG_6036


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Fresh Chickpeas with Kale, Sweet Onions and Rice

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It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I knew that fresh chickpeas—in the pod—could even be had. One day, I entered an Indian market in Jackson Heights, and there was a bin of what looked like little individual pea pods, shorter and squatter. What are these, I wondered?

The handwritten sign at the top of the bin said chana. I knew that chana meant chickpeas. What?! No way. I picked one up, popped it, and there it was. A fresh, firm, beautiful chickpea. I bought a bunch and cooked my very first batch of chickpeas right out of the shell. It was all very exciting.fresh chickeas in pod

But fresh chickpeas (also known as garbanzos) are not available all the time. In fact, they can only be found in spring. So when I saw them again, I bought some for myself and my mom (I knew she’d love them).

When you have fresh beans like this, not much needs to, or should, be done to them. Fresh beans are meaty, savory, nutty, and have a great feel in the mouth. Plump and pale green, chickpeas are packed with protein, and are a good source of vitamin C, calcium, and iron. They’ve been shown to be a great food to help fight diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, high cholesterol, and inflammation, and promote healthy digestion.IMG_5976

Between the chickpeas and the kale, this dish is not only filling and delicious, but healthy, substantial, and physically satisfying. The addition of the rice (whatever kind you like), rounds it out for a truly filling meal.

Enjoy!

Fresh Chickpeas with Kale, Sweet Onions and Rice

Makes 2 servings

2 teaspoons olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon paprika
1 cup fresh chickpeas
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup vegetable broth
3 cups chopped kale
1 cup cooked rice
¼ cup grated parmigiana (optional)

In a wide skillet, heat the oil with the garlic. When the garlic is fragrant, add the paprika and chickpeas. Sauté 5 minutes.IMG_5981Add the onion and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Continue sautéing until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.IMG_5983Pour in the broth, then add the kale and remaining salt. Cover and cook until kale is tender, about another 5 to 7 minutes. Stir occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.IMG_5984IMG_5986Transfer vegetables to 2 bowls and stir ½ cup rice into each. Top with a little parmigiano, if desired.IMG_5992


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Warm Sorghum Salad

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This week in honor of last week’s episode of The Walking Dead, I offer you Warm Sorghum Salad.

Okay, the truth is, I already had this blog post and recipe prepared but it seemed like an appropriate time to post it.IMG_5809

Many people don’t know what sorghum is. It’s a grain that originated in Africa and that’s been used in this country for years as fodder—except in the South, where it’s been a fairly popular grain. Also in the South, sorghum molasses often takes the place of regular molasses, honey, maple syrup, and corn syrup. In short, it’s a liquid sweetener that’s used in baked goods, as well for drizzling on biscuits, pancakes, and toast.

I’ve offered other sorghum recipes here, such as Sorghum Pilaf, Sorghum Stir-Fry, and my Cranberry Sauce with a Sorghum Twist (using sorghum molasses) even made it in into the holiday issue of Pilcrow & Dagger.

Sorghum is gluten free and inexpensive. But it’s also very use friendly. It’s a diverse grain that can be used in many different dishes. Here’s my Warm Sorghum Salad. It’s great to bring to dinner in the fall and winter, but also to barbecues and picnics in the warmer seasons. And the kale makes it a well-rounded, healthy dish. Enjoy!

Warm Sorghum Salad

Makes 6 servings

1 cup sorghum grain
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup minced shallot
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ lb. mushrooms (preferably a combination of white and baby bella), thinly sliced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
4 packed cups chopped kale
Fresh pepper
½ small lemon

Dressing
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the sorghum in a mesh strainer and rinse it under running water for a minute or two. Place it in a small pot along with 3 cups water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Drain well.

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Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wide skillet. Add the shallot, ¼ teaspoon salt, and saute until soft and translucent, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt and saute until the water they release dries up and mushrooms brown.IMG_5813When you see browned bits in the pan, deglaze with the apple cider vinegar (add it to the pan and scrape up the brown bits with a wooden spoon).IMG_5816

Add the kale and another ½ teaspoon salt and cover; cook until kale is tender.IMG_5818While that’s cooking, make the dressing and set aside.

When the sorghum is cooked, add it to the pan with the kale and pepper and mix.IMG_5821Pour in the dressing and mix well. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Squeeze the lemon over it and stir.

Transfer to a serving bowl and serve warm.IMG_5824


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Kale-Bean Soup with Amaranth

IMG_3431With all the greens flourishing right about now, I’ve been having a craving for bean soup with greens. Why in the world would I crave soup in the dead heat of summer, you ask. I can have soup any time of the year. I absolutely love it. Yes, it can be warm and comforting in winter, but summer also calls for comfort of a different sort.

Plus, studies have shown that eating warming dishes such as soup can actually acclimate you better to the heat by elevating your body temperature, thereby making the weather more tolerable.

Anyway, someone gave me a tiny little bunch of kale and I thought that it was the perfect opportunity to make that beans-and-greens soup. I decided to add some amaranth to it—I love pasta and grains in my soup and amaranth is an exceptionally healthy choice.

Amaranth has been grown in Central and South America and consumed by the regional people for hundreds of years. It’s been an important source of protein for the indigenous people of those regions, and it is less expensive and, consequently, less controversial than quinoa.

Amaranth is a very rich source of protein, and it is more digestible than that of other grains. It’s also an excellent source of lysine, an important amino acid. Amaranth has the most calcium of any grain next to teff. It also is a better source than other grains of magnesium, iron, copper, and fiber. Amaranth is a good source of zinc, potassium, phosphorus, folate, niacin, and riboflavin, and vitamins A, C, E, K, B5, and B6, as well as antioxidants, which fight cancer. It has been shown to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, and—don’t hold me to this—helps prevent premature graying. For carb counters, it’s lower in carbs than other grains and it’s gluten free.

So, here’s my impromptu recipe for Kale-Bean Soup with Amaranth. These are approximate amounts, so use however much you like of anything. Soup is very forgiving where quantities of ingredients are concerned. Enjoy.

Kale-Bean Soup with Amaranth

Makes 4 servings.

1 small bunch kale
2 teaspoons olive oil
¼ cup diced onion
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup diced tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth (or 2 cups water + 2 bouillon cubes)
¼ cup amaranth
1 cup cooked beans (whichever you prefer)

Wash the kale and remove thick stems. Chop into bite-sized pieces.

In a medium pot, heat oil; add onion, garlic, and salt. Sauté until onion is translucent, about 2 or 3 minutes.

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Add tomatoes and sauté another minute.

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Pour in broth and let it come to a boil. Add amaranth; lower heat to medium-low and simmer until is cooked, about 10 minutes.

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Add kale and beans and continue cooking until kale is tender (this can take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the size and “toughness” of the kale). Adjust seasoning to taste.

Serve as is or with grated cheese and/or crusty bread.

 

 


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Beet-Kale-Garbanzo Salad

Beet-Kale-Garbanzo Salad

Chickpea (garbanzo) and beet salad is not a new thing. In fact, a recipe for it is in my cookbook, Vegetarian Italian: Traditions, Volume 1. But, see, I had this kale that I needed to use, and I had just roasted up these fresh beets that I’d purchased at the Greenmarket.

So, this particular chickpea and beet salad is a mutated version of my old recipe, encompassing the little “extras” in my fridge. It’s really simple and can easily be seasoned to suit anyone’s taste.

Beet-Kale-Garbanzo Salad

2 medium beets
1 cup kale leaves, washed and chopped
½ cup cooked garbanzos
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup cured olives (any kind)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Wrap the beets in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast until tender when pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes. (The time will vary, depending on the size and freshness of the beets. You will have to unwrap the foil to check it.)

Remove from oven, unwrap the foil, and let cool. When cook enough to handle, peel the beets with a paring knife (the skin will pull right off). You may want to wear gloves to keep your fingers from turning red. Chop and place in a medium bowl.

Add kale, garbanzos, oil, and balsamic and mix. Season with salt and pepper to your liking and mix again. Gently mix in the olives.

Serves 2.