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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Easy Sauteed Kale and Campanelle Pasta with Balsamic Vinegar

Your choice: Vegetarian or with Meat, Sauteed, Kale Pasta

Recently I did some experimenting in the kitchen and came up with what may be my new favorite pasta dish. Combining the fresh flavor of celery with sweet, lightly caramelized onions, the vibrant flavor of kale, a bit of freshly ground black pepper, salt and a splash of balsamic vinegar... Man, every time I think about this dish my mouth waters and I want some!

And it's sooooooo EASY to make!

To keep my kale fresh I cut the ends off and place the bunch in a container of water, changing the water each day.

You will need:
  • Kale - I used 6 small leaves
  • Celery - sliced a little less than a cup
  • Onion -  1/4 but you could add more
  • Salt - to taste
  • Pepper - to taste
  • Balsamic Vinegar - enough to coat pasta when you toss it with the vegetables I used approximately a TBS and a half
  • Pasta - Made just enough to create two servings
  • Cooking Oil - Sesame works well

I chose Barilla's Campanelle Pasta. I'd never had it before but it may be my new favorite pasta. I've always been a fan of ruffled (Fusilli and Rotelle) and textured tubular pastas (Ziti, Rigatoni, Penne) because of how they hold more sauce and little bits of garlic and seasonings not just on, but also in them.

Campanelle is the best of both worlds! This pasta is a semi circle (half of a circle) to be exact. The straight edge is a plain cut and the curved edge is ruffled. The pasta is then rolled into a cone shape perfect for catching and holding seasonings and sauce. So cute!

I used sesame oil to saute the veggies in. It can take high heat and won't burn the way other oils can.

Basically, this dish came about because I had some leftover veggies in the fridge. A white onion and some celery, hmmmm what to make for dinner? I thinly sliced both so that they would cook quickly and so that their flavors wouldn't be overpowering.

Two minced cloves of fresh garlic.

To begin I added the sesame oil to the saute pan, kept the heat on med low and slowly cooked the onions.

When they began to caramelize just a bit I added in the celery and sauteed them together for a couple of minutes. I wanted the celery to be "al dente" like pasta meaning cooked but not overcooked. I wanted them to retain some crispness for texture and flavor. When done, remove the onions and celery to a small bowl and set aside.

Next I needed to saute the kale. Since I'd only ever baked kale and didn't know how to cook it on the stove top I went online and Googled "Sauteed Kale" and found this Bobby Flay recipe. It had 50 reviews and 5 stars so I figured it was a good one. I modified it a bit, simplifying it. I added a little more sesame oil to the saute pan I just took the celery and onions from, and let the minced garlic slowly cook on low heat until it just barely began to turn golden brown.

Next, I added the roughly chopped, bite sized pieces of kale. I added 1/2 cup of water, tossed the kale and garlic once, and as per Bobby's recipe, put the heat up to medium high and put a lid on the pan for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes the kale was cooked. I added the freshly boiled pasta to the saute pan and tossed. Next I added the celery and onions and mixed them all together.

Here's my best pasta tip: Time your pasta to finish cooking exactly when your sauce will be ready. It never tastes better than at that moment. Let it sit too long after cooking and it gets soft and overcooked. Even if you rinse with cold water I don't think it ever tastes as good as when you can spoon it straight from the hot water and into the saute pan with your sauce to toss them together.

Final Steps: Add some balsamic vinegar and toss, then add the salt and pepper.

Plate and serve. It's so light, so healthy and tastes so good!

Same recipe with Cream Sauce Added

More Options:
  1. MEAT: Small bites of (when possible, free range/organic) sauteed or baked chicken or (humanely produced) pancetta are obvious choices.

    Pancetta Photo Courtsey of www.OneVanillaBean.com

    Did you know you can even make your own pancetta? I found this blog post with pictures by someone who did to inspire you!
  2. FLAVORED SALT: Use a flavored salt. I used Italian Black Truffle Salt and it was awesome! It is expensive at $24 for just a small jar but I look at it this way. One jar will last quite a while. You could easily spend $24 on a single bottle of wine that you'd drink (with or without friends) in one or two evenings so what's  $24 for a jar of salt that will last you months?
  3. CHEESE: Adding a finely grated (powdered) cheese like parmesan, romano or asiago would be flavorful and would make the dish more salty, so cut back on the salt if you add cheese.
  4. SAUCES: To make the dish fancier you can always add a sauce. Here I whisked some butter and flour together over medium heat, then added some milk, salt and pepper to create a single, small serving of cream sauce.
Sourcing the Veggies: I found the organic veggies at my local farmers market. For around $5.50 I was able to afford all of the following organic produce:

• One bunch of kale
• One bunch of celery
• 5 potatoes
• 1 small onion
• 2 carrots

What a deal right?

If you try this recipe come back and let me know how yours turned out and feel free to share any tips about modifications you created that turned out super yummy!

If you enjoyed this recipe you may like these too:

• A Healthy Ramen Full of Fresh Veggies
• New Year's Day - Japanese Mochi Soup (Ozoni)
• Creating a Perfect Baked Puttanesca

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