What if I told you…this health food doesn’t suck? Kale is almost synonymous with green smoothies…I know they’re good for me, but the idea of downing raw liquified kale still makes me queasy. I’m all for superfoods, don’t get me wrong, but I’m also up for enjoyment, and the two can coexist – so I made this awesome Spaghettini with Creamy Kale Sauce last night –
Instead of a smoothie, how about we stuff that same heap of kale into a sauce and devour it for dinner? Only light ingredients are used – and I have a trick to reduce your calories still, need be, so read on.
I became a huge kale fan when I realized that I can steam and cook it down just like spinach. OMG. No juicing, no baking, no consuming raw leaves…why does it have to be so complicated? Kale takes on a sweet quality after steaming and becomes very soft and palatable. It actually tastes good. You can toss it with a bit of butter and salt as a side dish, or chop it very finely and use in stuffing, as an addition to steamed rice, or in sauces. I’ve been buying bags of this stuff lately… and I don’t see stopping anytime soon.
Since we’re comparing kale and spinach, both are nutritionally similar. What I do like more about kale is that I can pick up a large bunch and get more volume after steaming it, while still retaining a bit of “bite” in texture. Spinach seems to wilt down quite a bit more, and becomes much softer and breaks apart easily.
So – the sauce! I toss it with spaghettini here, which is just a thinner version of spaghetti. But you don’t have to stop here. Make the sauce slightly thicker and spread it on pizza (tried last night – so good), or use as stuffing in cannelloni, lasagna, or even pan-fry stuffed in sliced and toothpick secured chicken breasts.
You control the sauce consistency by adding milk – I give an approximate milk volume below, and you can adjust to suit. Aim to have the sauce no thinner than Greek yogurt, or it will be too runny and won’t stick to pasta.
I use ricotta in this recipe, but if you’re interested in saving calories use 1/2 ricotta and 1/2 silken tofu. You will not notice the difference in texture, and only a slight difference in taste. Remember that ricotta consistency can vary – from the thick blocks wrapped in paper (this is what I always use and recommend), to the lighter and more watery versions in tubs. So adjust your sauce consistency accordingly. If you’re serving the sauce on pizza, below quantities make enough for 2 large crusts.
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- 1 large bunch of raw kale (5-6 leaves), stemmed
- 1 tbs butter
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- approximately 1 cup of 2% milk
- generous sprinkle of salt and pepper
- 1 lb of spaghettini pasta
- Steam the kale until softened. If you don't have a steamer, place in a covered pot with about ⅓ cup of water and cook until soft. Remove the kale and set aside to cool. Discard the cooking water.
- Melt the butter in a non stick skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and continue cooking, stirring often, until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute, then remove from heat and set aside.
- Place the cooked kale on a large wooden board and chop very finely. Place the chopped kale in a large bowl and add the onion and garlic mixture, and the ricotta. Mix well. Add enough milk to get consistency similar to Greek yogurt. Mix again. You can leave the sauce as is, or use an immersion blender to give it even smoother consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook pasta until al dente. Warm up the sauce and spoon over the pasta, mixing lightly. Drizzle with olive oil, check your seasoning and serve immediately.