Kale Zucchini Lasagna

It’s a fun take on an old favorite, even for those without dietary restrictions. While I usually find lasagna to be such a comfort food that it ends up relegated to snowy times, the slightly al dente zucchini slices give this version a freshness that makes it feel completely appropriate for summer. It’s also a great way to use up zucchini when your garden is overflowing and you can’t stand one more loaf of zucchini bread.  When we made it for the Downtown Farmers Market last Tuesday, we stacked our lasagna with sautéed kale, tomato sauce, and homemade ricotta, but you could use any combination of veggies that you have in abundance; one visitor to the market even suggested replacing the zucchini noodles with bright slices of bell peppers.

zuc strips
With a few minor adjustments, the assembly on this lasagna is pretty standard. After slicing the zucchini – a mandolin slicer would be useful, but isn’t essential – lay it out on paper-towel lined cookie sheets and sprinkle with salt; this helps to draw out excess water and keep your lasagna from getting soggy. To help distribute the kale evenly, we combined it with our ricotta mixture before layering, but you can adapt that depending on the other veggies you choose.

This recipe was adapted from the lovely Tri to Cook.

Kale Zucchini Lasagna

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 very large (or 2 regular) zucchini
  • 1 bunch kale, washed and destemmed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 24 oz jar tomato sauce (may not use all)
  • parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Cut the ends off of your zucchini, then slice lengthwise into 1/4 in “noodles.” Arrange slices on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Chop the kale into small pieces; add to the pan and saute for 5 min. Add garlic and cook until kale begins to wilt. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Mix together ricotta, egg, garlic powder, basil, and oregano in a large bowl. Stir in the cooled kale.
  5. Blot the zucchini with paper towels to remove moisture drawn out by the salt.
  6. Cover the bottom of a 9 in pan with a thin layer of sauce. Begin layering the lasagna, alternating zucchini slices, ricotta mixture, and tomato sauce.
  7. Bake, covered with foil, for 35 min. Remove foil, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and cook for an additional 5-10 min, or until cheese is bubbly and begins to brown.
  8. Allow to cool for 5-10 min before cutting. Serve topped with fresh basil.

Drunken Beet Linguine

I like to cook with alcohol, but I hardly ever buy it specifically for that reason. When it comes to wine, in the bottom shelf of my fridge door you’ll find the remnants of bottles that were never quite finished. They’re tucked away there just for cooking purposes and that’s mostly de-glazing plans for sauces, stews and soups.
I don’t drink expensive wine, so naturally I’m not going to cook with it either. But most importantly, when cooking with wine – or any alcohol – you should only use something you like the flavor of and wouldn’t mind drinking.

beets

By boiling linguine in red wine and water, this pasta dish truly highlights its use by dying the linguine an attractive shade of purple. Cooking pasta in wine – “drunken” – is actually a common Tuscan technique. There are several methods out there regarding how much wine to use when doing so, and some suggest using wine as the only liquid. But the recipe below, since it is more heavily water based, offers a pretty mild wine flavor in the end, despite the vibrant result. You don’t have to be a wine lover to enjoy it and you don’t have to devote a whole bottle either. Unless you want to, of course.

Beets, with their similar shade of purple, felt like a logical addition to the pasta. Since I already happened to have some cooked in the fridge, I chopped those up and added them in, along with a mix of chard and beet greens.

If you don’t have a specific use in mind, I can’t suggest enough to precook vegetables like beets and winter squash when you have the chance. They will store in the fridge for the week and make for a quick addition to a dish like this.

beets1

You could, and probably should, adapt this recipe in a number of ways. It was my first time making it, but next time I might add in a tablespoon or so of tomato paste to the pan before adding in the reserved pasta water to thicken up the sauce. I also see it being just as great with Parmesan cheese instead of goat. And I might save some time by boiling the greens with the pasta instead of wilting them in the pan.

Drunken Beet Linguine

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 – 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups red wine (about half a bottle)
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 bunch beet greens, chard or kale, roughly chopped or torn
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 medium beets, cooked, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil or parsley, chopped

Instructions

  1. Add the wine to a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil, add the pasta and cook to al dente. Drain, reserving one cup of the cooking liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the onion and mince the garlic. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic and red pepper. Cook about 8 minutes before adding the greens, nutmeg and ground pepper, to taste. Let wilt, then add the reserved cooking liquid, the butter and the beets. Bring to a simmer.
  3. Simmer until the liquid has reduced slightly. Toss in the cooked pasta until all is combined. Taste, adjust seasoning as needed, then top with the walnuts, goat cheese and herbs.

Kale and Mango Salad

KALE AND MANGO SALAD

While you probably won’t find mangoes in Vermont any time soon, this is an example of how to incorporate a more exotic item with something you can find in Vermont throughout the summer and into the fall. Massaging the kale leaves really helps soften them down and transform the texture into more of a lettuce-like consistency. And when paired with the sweetness of the mango and dressing, I think people were surprised with the results. 

Serves 4     Prep: 15 minutes

  • 1 bunch kale stalks removed and discarded, leaves thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 mango, diced (about 1 cup)
  • Small handful toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds

In large serving bowl, add the kale, half of lemon juice, a drizzle of oil and a little kosher salt. Massage until the kale starts to soften and wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside while you make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk remaining lemon juice with the honey and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Stream in the 1/4 cup of oil while whisking until a dressing forms, and you like how it tastes. Pour the dressing over the kale, and add the mango and pumpkin seeds. Toss and serve.

From: foodnetwork.com

Kale and Bean Stew

I’ve been enjoying this recipe for years! It is a hearty and delicious vegetarian stew that can easily be the star of the table!

Kale

Cannellini and Kale Ragoût
courtesy of Epicurious.com

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 1 1/2-inch-thick slices Italian bread, crusts removed, each slice quartered
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 tea
spoon dried crushed red pepper
5 cups (packed) thinly sliced kale (about 1 large bunch)
1 14 1/2-ounce can vegetable broth
1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes with green pepper and onion in juice
1 15-ounce can cannellini (white kidney beans), drained

preparation

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add bread and 1 teaspoon thyme; cook until bread is golden on both sides, turning with tongs, about 2 minutes total. Transfer croutons to bowl; sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Add remaining 4 tablespoons oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper to same pot; sauté over medium heat 30 seconds. Add kale and broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until kale wilts, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice, beans, and remaining 1 tablespoon thyme. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle ragout into shallow bowls. Top with croutons and serve.

Spring Freezer Cleanout: Turkey Pot Pie

how-long-food-last

Earlier this week I joined Bethany Yon from the VT Department of Health on her show, What’s Cooking Rutland. The theme was cleaning out the freezer. Bethany and I took inventory of our freezers and were surprised by how much we found – especially in leftover fruits and vegetables from last year’s harvest.

Now is a good time to see what is hanging out in there and to start using up what you already have before the season really kicks off and you start buying more. It’s not a bad idea to clear out anything questionable either. Here’s a useful guide to reference while determining what may or may not be worth saving.

Fruits and vegetables, for instance, shouldn’t spend more than a year in your freezer.

We based the show’s menu around what we found. When I discovered green beans, kale, carrots, homemade chicken stock, herbs, and pie crust, a pot pie came to mind. Then Bethany told me she had turkey breast from Thanksgiving. Perfect.

I took the items out of the freezer earlier in the day to defrost and lightly pressed out some of the water that was left in some of the vegetables. While you could try making this without defrosting the vegetables (the meat, on the other hand, will definitely require a defrost period), you might end up with a pretty watery pie. It’s harder to drain out the excess liquid at that point.

While I worked on the pie, Bethany made the blueberry and maple syrup sorbet we posted last year and a refreshing strawberry rhubarb soup. I usually don’t like rhubarb, but that was good stuff.

The show will be airing all through April on PEG-TV and streaming on their site as well. Check it out. Here’s the recipe for the pot pie. Of course, you could use ingredients that haven’t been frozen as well.

Turkey Pot Pie

  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 3 cups stock
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked, cubed turkey (or chicken)
  • 3 cups mixed vegetables
  • 2-3 Tbsp. of your favorite herbs (such as thyme, rosemary, parsley, oregano), chopped
  • 1 or 2 sheets of pie crust, either homemade or store bought
  • 1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute for a few minutes, until translucent. Stir in the flour and let cook for a minute, while moving around the pan, before pouring in the stock. Bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes and then add the meat, vegetables, and herbs. Simmer for 5 minutes until everything is heated through and the sauce has thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.

If you’d like both a bottom and top crust to your pie, go ahead and spread one sheet of dough over the bottom of a pie plate. A casserole dish could work too, if desired. Ladle in the contents of the pan and then top with another sheet of dough. Crimp the edges of the dough if you’re looking to have a nice presentation, or if you’re too eager to bother, just make a few slits with a knife. Brush with the beaten egg, for a browner, crispier crust, place on a baking sheet, and slide into the oven.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until the crust is looking golden brown. Remove and let cool as long as you can before slicing up and digging in.

Polenta with Tomatoes and Kale

If you’ve never heard of it before, polenta is basically a fancy corn mush that is very similar to the southern staple known as grits. Made with inexpensive, household corn meal, polenta is a great example of how easy it is to cook with grains.  It doesn’t take long to prepare and even better yet, you probably already have corn meal in your pantry. As with most other grains, the basic cooking premise involves boiling the grain in water or other liquid – a task that a cook of any ability level can handle.

While there is pre-made polenta for sale in tubes in the grocery stores, there is really no need to go that route when the cooking process is this simple. Start with the basic recipe then adapt depending upon what you intend to serve it with. Here, I use it as I might pasta – with some Parmesan added in and topped with a crushed tomato sauce and sautéed kale.

I think that the key to a great polenta, or any grain, dish is to use it as the base on which to highlight things such as a nice cut of meat, seasonal vegetables, or even fresh fruit. I’ve seen polenta used in many ways – as the pasta base in a lasagna, mixed with pumpkin puree and served with pork, and even flavored with a little maple syrup and topped with berries as a breakfast dish. Once you get the hang of this simple base recipe, try getting more creative.

Basic Polenta

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt
  • 1 cup course cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • freshly ground black pepper

Combine the milk with 2 cups water and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Barely bring to a boil, then add the cornmeal, whisking to prevent lumps from forming. Turn the heat to low and simmer, while whisking on and off, until thick, 10 to 15 minutes. Add in more water if it gets too thick. Add in the butter and Parmesan, if using.

Try:

  • Mixing in chopped fresh herbs like rosemary and sage and adding in minced garlic
  • Pouring into a pan, letting cool for ten minutes, cutting into slices and grilling or pan frying with a little oil

For the quick tomato sauce:

In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook one clove minced garlic with a pinch of red pepper flakes in two tablespoons of olive oil for thirty seconds. Add in one chopped onion and two tablespoons finely chopped, fresh oregano. Cook until soft – 5 minutes or so. Pour two cups crushed tomatoes into the pan with a large pinch of salt. Stir, bring to a boil, and turn heat down to low. Simmer for 10 minutes. Mix in a small bunch of fresh, roughly torn basil and 1/4 cup chopped parsley and you’re good to go.

Two New Salads Featuring Two Exciting Veggies

Kale and mango salad

On Friday, Everyday Chef gave out samples of two salads at Friday Night Live in downtown Rutland. While they weren’t technically dinner salads – our theme of the month- I thought they were great because they utilized two main ingredients that many people are not familiar with – kale and kohlrabi. Despite the unfamiliarity, both items are grown at Radical Roots Farm right here in Rutland. A visit to their farm stand, which is open on Tuesdays, or any of the stands at the downtown farmers’ market, proves that one doesn’t need to travel far to discover new flavors and healthy, tasteful, items to cook. Or, in the case of these salad recipes, you don’t even need to do any cooking to enjoy. Note: If you want to make these salads into full dinners, you could try a piece of grilled chicken on top of the kale salad and a grilled pork chop on top of the kohlrabi.

KALE AND MANGO SALAD

While you probably won’t find mangoes in Vermont any time soon, this is an example of how to incorporate a more exotic item with something you can find in Vermont throughout the summer and into the fall. Massaging the kale leaves really helps soften them down and transform the texture into more of a lettuce-like consistency. And when paired with the sweetness of the mango and dressing, I think people were surprised with the results. 

Serves 4     Prep: 15 minutes

  • 1 bunch kale stalks removed and discarded, leaves thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 mango, diced (about 1 cup)
  • Small handful toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds

In large serving bowl, add the kale, half of lemon juice, a drizzle of oil and a little kosher salt. Massage until the kale starts to soften and wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside while you make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk remaining lemon juice with the honey and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Stream in the 1/4 cup of oil while whisking until a dressing forms, and you like how it tastes. Pour the dressing over the kale, and add the mango and pumpkin seeds. Toss and serve.

From: foodnetwork.com 

KOHLRABI AND APPLE COLESLAW

Between the two – kale and kohlrabi – people sampling our salads seemed to know less about the kohlrabi. The part that is most often eaten, and that is used here, is the swollen stem that loosely resembles a turnip. However, kohlrabi grows above ground rather than under. Its taste is comparable to cabbage and broccoli, but a little more sweet, which is why it pairs well  here with the tartness of apples and tang of the yogurt dressing. This is a great way to change up a traditional summer barbecue dish. I added in a few handfuls of dried cranberries to add some color. Out of the two salads I gave out, this one disappeared the quickest. 

Serves 4   Prep: 15 minutes

  • 1 large kohlrabi or 2 small, peeled
  • 1 large tart apple or 2 small, cored
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • juice of half a lemon, or 2 tablespoons
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Julienne the kohlrabi and apple. You can use a mandoline or do it manually. If doing manually: slice the kohlrabi and the apple thinly, then stack slices and cut into matchsticks. Note: You may want to sprinkle the apple with lemon juice to prevent browning. For the honey yogurt dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, honey, pepper, and salt. Toss in the kohlrabi and apple, and mix well. Let sit 10 minutes before to allow the flavors to mingle.

From shinycooking.com

Greens 101

We’ve been talking about greens all month here on the blog. And you’re probably seeing greens everywhere at the market and in your farm shares. But maybe you aren’t so sure the difference between chard and collards or mesclun and romaine. So here is a visual guide to a few of our favorite greens and some info to get you started.

Name: Arugula Season: spring – summer Taste: bitter Cooking Methods: braise, raw (salads), saute, soups, wilt Pairs well with: balsamic vinegar, cheese: goat and Parmesan, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, tomatoesTry:arugula + balsamic + lemon + olive oil + Parmesan OR raw arugula + pears + prosciutto

 

Name: Bok choy
Season: year-round

Taste: bitter Cooking Methods: boil, braise, raw, stir-fry Pairs well with: ginger, rice, sesame oil, soy sauce Try:bok choy + oyster sauce + mushrooms (stir-fried) OR bok choy + sesame oil + vinegar + scallions (raw)

 

Name: Collard Greens Season: winter – spring Taste: bitter Cooking Methods: boil, braise, steam, stir-fry Pairs well with: bacon, black-eyed peas, cider vinegar, onions, salt pork,

Try: steamed collard greens + brown rice + black-eyed peas

 

 

Name: Dandelion greens

Season: late spring – early autumn Taste: bitter Cooking Methods: raw, saute, steam Pairs well with: anchovies, bacon, Dijon mustard, garlic, onionsTry:steamed dandelion greens + garlic + onion + Parmesan

Name: Kale Season: spring- autumn  Taste: bitter, sweet Cooking Methods: blanch, boil, braise, saute, steam, stir-fry Pairs well with: chicken stock, garlic, nutmeg, olive oil, onions, pasta, red pepper flakes, roasted meats, thyme, tomatoes Try:kale + garlic + olive oil + red wine vinegar OR kale + onions + salt + smoked sausage

Name: Loose leaf lettuce (lettuces in general)

Season: spring- autumn Cooking Methods: raw Pairs well with: apples, bacon, basil, cheese, dill, eggs, mint, nuts, olive oil, parsley, pears, raisins, raw vegetables, sprouts, tarragon, vinegar Try: limitless options here

 

Name: Mesclun (mixed baby lettuces)

Season: spring       Taste: bitter, sweet Cooking Methods: raw Pairs well with: basil, goat cheese, chives, lemon, olive oil, pecans, shallots, tarragon, vinaigrette Try:mesclun + goat cheese + hazelnuts or pecans

Name: Romaine (Head lettuce)

Season: spring- autumn Taste: bitter, sweet Cooking Methods: grill, rawPairs well with: anchovies, avocados, Dijon mustard, eggs, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, red onions, shallots, vinegar, walnuts

 

 

Try:romaine + anchovies + Parmesan cheese OR romaine + capers + garlic + Parmesan cheese + red onions

Name: Swiss chard
Season: year-round    Taste: bitter

Cooking Methods: boil, braise, sauté, steam, stir-fry

Pairs well with: bacon, garlic, lemon, onions, mushrooms, pasta, potatoes, red pepper flakes, thyme, vinegar

 

Try: chard + bell peppers + Parmesan cheese + eggplant OR chard + red pepper flakes + lemon juice

Kale Chips

We all hear about the health benefits of Kale. And you’ve probably heard about one Vermont artist’s campaign to Eat More Kale. But let’s face it; if something doesn’t taste good to you, then you’re simply not going to eat it – no matter its antioxidant count or popularity.

Unlike salad greens, kale is not sweet and tender in its initial state and it is easy to see how one might be turned off by it at first bite. However, there is a way to transform kale’s taste and texture into something completely different – a chip. Yes, crispy like the potato chip, but without the excess fat, calories, and need to fry. In fact, kale chips are incredibly easy to prepare, taste good, and retain the green’s healthy qualities. So, before you look to give that bunch of kale away to the first person who will take it, try out these chips.

This is the basic recipe to get you started with kale chips. It is seasoned with nothing more than sea salt. Feel free to experiment.

Ingredients:

  • One bunch of kale
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Sea salt
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 300°F.
  2. Give your bunch of kale a good rinse and then pat dry with a clean towel.
  3. Remove the center rib and any tough stems. This can be done either by pulling the leaves right off or by running a sharp knife down either side of the rib. Discard the ribs for the compost pile.
  4. Tear the leaves into large to medium sized pieces and throw into a large bowl.
  5. Toss the chips with the olive oil and sea salt to taste.
  6. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray and then arrange the chips in a single layer.
  7. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes or until crisp.
  8. Place the chips on a rack to cool, that is, if you aren’t eating them right out of the oven.

Frittata with Spring Greens

A frittata is a tasty combination of eggs, vegetables, and cheese cooked on the stove and then finished in the oven. This is a basic recipe that can be widely adapted.

Frittata with Spring Greens

Ingredients • One large sweet or yellow onion, diced • One clove of garlic, minced (if desired) • 2 tbs of butter or olive oil • One bunch of green vegetables: chose one or more: spinach, asparagus, swiss chard, kale, arugula, scallions, leeks, etc., rough chopped • 3/4 to full cup of your favorite cheese: shredded cheddar, ricotta, goat chevre, feta–just about anything works! • 1/4 cup grated parmesan for the top • 8-10 eggs • ½ cup cream, half and half, or milk • salt and pepper to tastePreparation Melt butter or warm oil in a heavy, ovenproof, non-stick or cast iron skillet (approximately 10 inch). Saute onion and garlic in the butter or oil until translucent. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk eggs, milk, and cheese with salt and pepper. Add chopped vegetables to the skillet and saute briefly (longer for thicker veg like asparagus). Add egg mixture to skillet; fold gently to combine. Cook until almost set. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top. Broil until frittata is puffed and cheese begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

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