Anathema: Kid-Friendly Kale

Ha! Got your attention... This is NOT kale.

It’s Tuesday at 5:00 PM and the natives are restless. In less than 25 minutes my sanctioned television babysitting time will be over and then, God knows, I will be at their mercy. I’m not being dramatic. At this time of day I’m useless and wrung out. I need a nap. I need a drink. I need to alternate between both until someone passes out. Preferably someone under the age of 35. But, alas, I also need to cook.This isn’t a cooking blog, but you’ll see soon enough that I’m slightly obsessed with it. I’m not sure what came first: the obsession not to eat or the obsession to eat. It’s a psychological conundrum. I don’t have time for those anymore, so instead I just cook and eat whatever I want. Unless my kids are involved.

We belong to a wonderful CSA where we get seasonal, local, and organic produce. It is my heaven. This coming from the girl who gagged on asparagus until she was in college. Anyway, the winter CSA just ended. I have bags of washed and prepped greens in my fridge. Roots in my cellar. And nothing to eat. Spare me the lecture, enlightened ones. My kids won’t eat potatoes — mashed, fried, or otherwise. They have tasted and rejected kohlrabi, turnips, beets, and watermelon radishes. Ditto to parsnips, komatsuna and acorn squash.

Now, I am no dummy. I lovingly enrobe these veggies in butter, cream and salt as needed. I roast them in olive oil and serve them with dip. I add lumps of brown sugar and splashes of maple syrup. I sprinkle with crispy lardons and saute in bacon fat.

Still no dice.

But tonight. A breakthrough. Forget kale chips (those purported kid-friendly crisps). Forget kale puree in your chocolate cupcakes (who the hell has time to make kale puree AND cupcakes just to get their kids to eat veggies?!). Just make this dish. It takes a half hour to make. It’s (almost) a one-pot meal. Really. It’s that simple. You could have knocked me over with a feather. If there had been leftovers, I would have taken a picture to post. So there.

Creamy Tortellini, Kielbasa and Kale
(Or the “This kale doesn’t taste like kale. It just tastes like sausage and pasta!” recipe)

1 package frozen cheese tortellini (19 oz)
3-4 cups fresh kale, washed
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup onion, minced (about 1 small, or 1/2 medium)
2 TB butter, unsalted
2 TB flour
3 cups chicken broth, low sodium
1 package (13 oz) kielbasa sausage [I used turkey kielbasa.]
1/4 – 1/2 cup heavy cream
Parmesan cheese, grated or finely shredded (for topping)

1) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add kale, plus a large pinch of sugar, and cook for about 5-7 minutes (or longer) until soft and wilted, but still a bright dark green color. Drain and set aside.

2) Melt butter in a large, deep saute pan (3 or 4 qt. size). Add garlic, onion and a large pinch of kosher salt. Saute until onions are soft and translucent.

3) Slice sausage lengthwise, then slice crosswise into 1/2″ slices. Add sausage to garlic and onion mixture. Saute until sausage is heated through, and slightly browned. Then sprinkle flour over mixture, stir, and cook for about 2 minutes.

4) Add chicken broth to the pan. Scrape the bottom of the pan to get up all the tasty bits, then bring liquid to a boil. Once boiling, add the frozen tortellini. Cook, uncovered, until pasta is soft and starts floating easily to the top of the mixture, stirring often.

5) Chop the cooked kale roughly, then add to pan with tortellini, sausage and broth. Stir to mix. Then add cream, stir, and cook on low heat until the sauce thickens slightly. Taste and adjust seasonings (add salt or pepper) as needed. [I find that you don’t need much extra salt with the salt in the sausage and broth, so go easy.]

6) Serve pasta in shallow bowls, topped with parmesan cheese. Pass more cheese for topping at the table (something kids seem forever excited about doing). Do a jig. Pass out on the sofa. Pray.


5 thoughts on “Anathema: Kid-Friendly Kale

  1. I SO hear you about the 5:30 meltdown. But hey, my kids do actually like kale chips. I might be ready to branch out in the kale-for-kids dept, though. They’re usually game for anything involving tortellini….

  2. Congratulations on finding something they’ll eat this is more or less green. We’ll keep it in mind for your visit.

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