So, we’ve been trying to eat less wheat and fewer starches yet, one of my go-to type of recipes to throw together is a yummy, cheesey Italian-style baked dish. One day, I had this great idea of substituting the shell-type noodle with a kale leaf! This idea was super exciting to me and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days. Seriously. Here’s what came of it…
Ricotta & Butternut Squash Stuffed Kale
10-12 Kale Leaves
1 small Butternut Squash- peeled, halved, cored, cubed
1 small Onion
8 oz fresh Ricotta Cheese
1 small bunch of mixed fresh Herbs, chopped (I used oregano, rosemary, sage, and parsley.)
Sea Salt & Black Pepper
½ Onion, chopped
1 lb Sausage
½ cup red wine
1 25 oz can Whole Tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, crushed and chopped
Fresh Parsley and Oregano, chopped (I use lots of fresh herbs, you can use whatever amount you are comfortable with.)
1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
Ground Black Pepper
½ cup grated Pecorino from Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Coop (I bought it at The Bloomy Rind in Nashville. It is divine! You could use any aged Italian style cheese.)
Wash the kale leaves and remove the thick center stem. So, if you have big leaves, you can use each half as a leaf. Pat them dry and set aside. Saute the onion and butternut squash in the olive oil until soft. Set aside to cool. In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, herbs, salt and pepper. Once the onion and squash mixture is cool, mix it with the ricotta.
You can really use any spaghetti sauce you wish. I made a simple one, using Sweet Italian Sausage from Porter Road Butcher in Nashville. Simply saute the onion in some olive oil. Add the sausage to brown. Add the wine and then the garlic and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper if necessary and cook. Add fresh herbs and a little tomato paste, if necessary, to thicken a little. You may not need the entire recipe above for the dish and might have leftovers of the sauce. (Sorry- I didn’t measure well.)
Preheat oven to 375. Place a thin layer of the sauce in the bottom of a 9”x13” baking dish. Hold a kale leaf in your hand and place a spoonful of the ricotta mixture on it. Roll to tuck the sides under and place in the baking dish. (Basically, you use the kale leaves as you would pasta- as a vessel to hold the ricotta filling.) Repeat until all the kale bundles have been made and the dish is full with one layer of tightly bunched kale bundles. Cover with the sauce. Top with the grated cheese. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the top is a nice golden brown.
When we lived in Seattle, one of my favorite places to shop was the PCC Markets. They brought natural food shopping to all new heights. One thing I still look forward to each time we visit and get together with family and friends is stopping by for some party or picnic foods. In addition to an enormous selection of local cheeses, breads, produce, beer, wine, and chocolates, they also have a great deli filled with delicious and healthy prepared foods. This next recipe is one I adapted from their recipe called, Turkish Garbanzo Salad. I just made a few adjustments to better fit my taste- one is, I changed to Spanish smoked paprika which gives it a much different flavor. I don’t like it quite so onion-y so I held back on the onion and switched to a white onion. I also adjusted the amounts of each ingredient to make a smaller quantity. I love it but if I make too much, we have too many leftovers. If you are making it for a large group or taking it to a potluck, you may want to double this recipe. This one makes about 6 or so servings.
Garbanzo Bean Salad
4 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 cloves Garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp fresh Oregano, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh Parsley, chopped
1 tsp Spanish Smoked Paprika
¼-½ tsp Sea Salt
½ tsp ground Black Pepper
2 (14-ounce) cans Garbanzo Beans, rinsed and drained
¼ White Onion, very finely chopped
¼ cup dried Apricots, diced
¼ cup Kalamata Olives – rinsed, drained, pitted, and chopped
Mix the first 9 ingredients together in a small bowl to make a vinaigrette. In a medium sized bowl, add the beans, onion, apricots, and olives. Stir well. Pour the vinaigrette over the bean mixture and stir. Let set in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before serving.
I make the Garbanzo Bean Salad so often that I wanted to come up with another fun and healthy bean salad for more variety. Bean salads are perfect for lunch- they are so simple to make, you can make them super healthy, you can eat them without having to heat them, and they offer a good protein hit to sustain you throughout the afternoon. This next one is a beans and kale salad which came about based on what I had in the refrigerator and in my cupboard. As I began to add ingredients together, it started to remind me of my favorite dish at The Wild Cow vegetarian restaurant in Nashville, Beans & Greens, hence the name of this salad.
Beans & Greens Salad
2 cloves Garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1 small bunch fresh Parsley, chopped
juice of ½ Lemon
1 tsp Braggs Amino Acids
2 tsp Tahini
Sea Salt & Black Pepper
1 ½ cup Kale, chopped into small pieces
1 ½ cup canned or boxed Kidney Beans (drained)
1 cup cooked Rice (You can use brown rice or white, or substitute another grain. I just use whatever I have leftovers of.)
Make a dressing by mixing the first 6 ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. Add the kale and massage it into the dressing, gently crushing the leaves a little. Add in the beans and rice and stir.
New music and record release shows are happening in our neighborhood on a daily basis. We can hardly keep up but it sure is fun trying! I had seen Jesse Lafser play awhile back and remembered really loving her voice so when I saw her post about her new release party, I knew it was a must-see.
Even Rolling Stone is talking about her! She put on one fine show at the Basement and now, her new cd is on heavy rotation in our house. My very favorite way to enjoy it, though, is played loudly, on repeat, as I drive. This is perfect road trip music. If you aren’t listening to it loudly, while hitting the road, it will surely make you want to plan your next adventure. You can read the Rolling Stone article HERE and see the video for my favorite new song. And please go buy a copy of her new cd, Raised On The Plains, HERE!