Angel Hair with Lemony Kale, Caramelized Onions, & Ricotta Salata

Kale is the new little black dress. Sautéed, baked, raw, braised, or fried, it all works. And I’m so fortunate to have oodles of the stuff from my favorite local farm. We’re always coming up with new ways to infuse the leafy lovelies into our meals, and this pasta dish may be my new favorite.

For this dish, you’ll need…

  • approximately 50 leaves of curly kale, stripped from the spines, washed and dried (use your salad spinner)
  • four tablespoons of EVOO
  • two yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • five cloves of garlic, minced
  • half fresh lemon, juice and zest
  • Sea Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 12 ounces Angel hair cooked al dente

Optional:

  • Balsamic vinegar reduction
  • Ricotta Salata cheese, crumbled

To begin, heat two tablespoons of EVOO in your favorite, very large, skillet over medium heat.

Add the sliced onions to the pan and a small pinch of sea salt.

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Keep the onions moving so they don’t burn until they start to soften. Reduce the heat to low-medium and let them caramelize. This should take about five minutes. Once they’re done, transfer them to a separate vessel.

Add one more tablespoon of EVOO to the pan and add the kale.

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Using tongs, toss the kale a lot as this will help it wilt. You’ll want it all in the pan, but it takes patience. Cooked kale, like any other green, cooks down to a minuscule portion of its original size once the water content is gone. The result is concentrated, amazing flavor.

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Add the lemon juice and a large pinch of sea salt. Give it another good toss. Put the lid on the pan. The kale will really start to break down because of the steam. After about a minute, remove the lid and check the progress. If it’s not soft, put the lid back on and wait another minute.

Remove the lid and make a well in the center of the kale. Add the minced garlic and give it a good stir. Add a bit of olive oil to help the sautéing if you desire.

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Add the lemon zest and stir again. Have cute boy help in the kitchen.

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Add the caramelized onions back to the pan and toss.

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Add the cooked pasta, drizzle in the remaining tablespoon of EVOO, and add salt and pepper to taste. There, you’re done!

photo 4But, if you’re like me, you’ll want to garnish this dish with crumbled ricotta salata cheese and a hefty balsamic reduction drizzle (yes, we always have this on hand). If you don’t have ricotta salata, feta cheese would be a great substitute.

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Until next time, my friends, happy eating!

 

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No Bah Humbug Here: The Easiest Holiday Appetizer EVER

If you’re short on time and you need a festive holiday appetizer in a pinch, look no further! This amazing snack was born from laziness. I was eating pomegranate seeds, my boyfriend was having brie and pita crackers, and I really wanted to eat his snack, but wanted to top the brie with pepper jelly. But it was all the way in the kitchen…like a million miles away. And when he’s watching a Michigan game with that glazed-over look, there’s no budging him. And I was (and still am) caught up in Martha Stewart’s Collected Recipes for Every Day cookbook because it’s raining out, and I can’t play in the garden.

Anyhow, I popped a few ruby red jewels on top of the brie-smeared cracker and stuffed it in my mouth. I did (and am still doing) this repeatedly. Pretty, right?

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In fact, this post is nearly interrupting my face-stuffing…but I had to tell the blogosphere about this. The sweet/tart flavor of the pomegranate combined with the salty/creaminess of the brie and the crunch of the cracker make for a perfect and super simple appetizer. What’s more is that these little antioxidant-rich babies look exactly like holly berries. I’m completely smitten…and full.

Festively snacking,

Jenna

P.S. To make this gluten-free, I’d go for nice, uber seedy gluten-free cracker. It’d be amazing!

Protein-Rich and Veggie Laden Breakfast Quesadillas

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There’s nothing that I can’t and won’t slap between two tortilla shells, and breakfast is certainly no exception. This morning I got a little crazy with some local eggs, purple bell peppers, red onion, yellow extra sharp Vermont cheddar, yellow sharp cheddar, and chicken apple sausage. To channel my inner Guy Fieri, I bought a one way ticket to Flavortown.

NOTE: If you’re vegetarian, gluten-free, or dairy-free, I’ll give some ways for you to adapt this to your dietary needs at the end of the post. 🙂

First thing’s first. Sautee the peppers and onions in a bit of canola oil until they’re translucent. Medium heat for 3-4 minutes should do the trick. Transfer to a plate.

Next soft scramble some eggs. To do this, beat them with a bit of milk and, using the same pan the veggies were in, add a smidge of butter, let it melt, and add the egg mixture. Moving them around the pan every 30 seconds or so, just cook them until they’re barely done. Runny is good. Salt and pepper them while they’re cooking. Transfer them to the same plate the veggies are on. Make neat little piles of your cooked goodies.

Finally, slice and sauté the chicken sausage. I really like the depth of flavor that comes with caramelization. This is a crucial step. As with the ingredients before, add these to the plate of goodies.

Now wipe out your pan. Add a bit more butter, and place one tortilla in the pan. Make sure the heat is on low-medium. Layer by layer, add some cheese, egg, veggies, chicken sausage, and more cheese.

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Cover with the other tortilla. Wait about two minutes, and check the underneath. It should be nice and golden brown. If so, carefully flip it over.

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Cook for another two minutes, transfer to a plate, and cut into triangles. I use a pizza wheel for this.

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Now all that’s left to do is grab your favorite hot sauce and chow down. Happy eating, everyone!

And, as promised, here’s some substitutions or omissions for my friends with dietary needs:

  • For my vegetarian friends, just leave out the chicken sausage or sub your favorite veggie one. Veggie bacon would also be yummy.
  • For my gluten-free friends, just swap corn tortillas for the flour ones. Also, the Al Fresco apple maple sausages are gluten-free, so you’re fine with those.
  • For my dairy-free friends, just use Daiya cheese, omit the milk in the eggs, and use Earth Balance spread instead of butter.

Crinkle-Cut Organic Carrot and Feta Salad

I just got back into town from being a bridesmaid in my father’s wedding. And, because my dad is a food fanatic, I gorged myself at the joyous event. I ate sushi, clams casino, tenderloin on crostini, flounder, scallops, lamp lollipops, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. And that doesn’t even include the four course dinner or dessert extravaganza. Last night, I was at a massive, overwhelming, international Vegas buffet where two people happened to get married.

Now that I’m home, I want a simple, no fuss, healthy snack. I desperately need to go grocery shopping, so my fridge is pretty bare bones right now. But a girl’s gotta eat. And this girl’s resourceful. I have a bag of organic carrots and lots of cheese. We always have a ton of cheese.

I grabbed my new favorite crinkle cutter, my veggie peeler, two carrots, feta, and my shall-remain-nameless-always-perfect-for-emergencies Italian Dressing (geeeeeeeeeezfine, it’s Ken’s) , and made the perfect snack. I normally don’t write about quick snacks, but this one warrants a post.

To make this, peel and crinkle cut (or regular knife cut) two organic carrots. Fun colored ones would be great, too. Combine with two tablespoons of feta cheese, one tablespoon of dressing, a small pinch of sugar, and a couple grinds of black pepper. Toss and eat. How simple is that?!?!

The sweetness from the carrots, combined with the salty, tangy bite of the feta make the ideal scarfable snack. Plus, and I can’t ignore this, but the wavy crinkle cut shape is really fun!

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I’ll be enjoying this time and time again. I hope you give it try!