Baked Rigatoni with Cheddar & Broccoli Rabe

I love a cheesy baked pasta loaded with greens. 🙂 This one was bursting with broccoli rabe (of which I am a huge fan) but it could have easily incorporated broccoli, baby broccolini, or other greens such as collards, spinach, and/or kale instead. We ate it with garlic bread and green salad. Great.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Alison Roman. I was a little bit concerned about the spice level after adding an entire teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, but the finished result was perfect. I baked the casserole in a Dutch oven and the cheesy bread crumb topping formed an incredible crispy crust over the entire top. I may consider adding garlic next time, but it was amazing without it!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 lb rigatoni, ziti, or fusilli
  • 8 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 large leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced into 1/4-inch half-moons
  • minced garlic, optional
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 2 bunches broccoli rabe or 3 bunches baby broccolini, trimmed, coarsely chopped (I cut the stems into 2-inch pieces and the leaves into 3-inch pieces)(see alternate green vegetable alternatives above)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 12 oz sharp white cheddar, coarsely grated (about 3 cups), divided (I used 10 oz extra-sharp white cheddar and 2 oz white Beecher’s Flagship Handmade Cheese)
  • 1 bunch chives, chopped, divided (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs or panko (I used a blend of the two)
  1. Preheat oven to 425°, preferably on convection.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add a generous amount of salt. Cook pasta, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking together, until just barely al dente, about 2 minutes less than package directions. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat 5 tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  4. Add leeks and season with salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are softened (but not so much that they don’t have any texture left) and starting to brown, 5–10 minutes.
  5. Add red pepper flakes and garlic, if using, to leeks and stir to incorporate.
  6. Add broccoli rabe by the handful, stirring to combine and allowing each addition to wilt before adding more.
  7. Season with salt and black pepper.
  8. Once all of the broccoli rabe has been added, cook, stirring occasionally, until bright green and wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat and set aside.
  9. Add pasta to reserved broccoli rabe mixture along with cream, three-quarters of the cheese, 2/3 of the chopped chives, and reserved pasta cooking liquid; mix well. Season with salt and black pepper and add more red pepper flakes if you prefer more heat (keep in mind that the saltiness and spiciness will increase as the pasta bakes).(I didn’t add any additional heat.)
  10. Transfer pasta to a 3-qt. baking dish (or, if your Dutch oven is ovenproof, just leave it in there). (I scraped down the sides of my Dutch oven and kept the mixture in it to bake- less dishes!)
  11. Toss breadcrumbs and remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a medium bowl until coated; season with salt and black pepper.
  12. Scatter breadcrumbs over pasta, then sprinkle evenly with remaining cheese.
  13. Bake until pasta is bubbling across the entire surface and breadcrumbs are deep golden brown, 22 to 35 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  14. Scatter remaining chives over pasta just before serving.

Shortcut Chicken & Dumplings

More weeknight comfort food! This dish uses rotisserie chicken meat and store-bought gnocchi as shortcuts to create a close match to traditional chicken and dumplings. It was quick to prepare and very tasty.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Alexa Weibel. I incorporated my CSA parsley, leeks, carrots, and collard greens. In addition, this soup could easily gobble up many other vegetables such as frozen peas, fennel, squash, parsnips, or mushrooms. We ate it with a green salad. Great.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 to 5 cups 1/2-inch ribbons of collard greens or kale, ribs removed (optional)
  • 2 medium carrots or 8 ounces butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium leek, trimmed, white and pale green portion halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 1 cup) (can substitute 1 large shallot, if desired)
  • 2 medium celery stalks, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick (about 2/3 cup)
  • additional vegetables such as frozen peas, or diced parsnips, fennel, or mushrooms, optional
  • 3 to 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (optional)(I omitted it)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 (16 to 18-ounce) package fresh or shelf-stable store-bought gnocchi (I used Trader Joe’s 17.6-ounce gnocchi)
  • 1/2 store-bought rotisserie chicken, skin and bones discarded, meat torn into bite-size pieces (about 2 to 3 cups shredded meat)
  • fresh tarragon, parsley or dill, for garnish

Chicken Baked on a Bed of Bread & Greens

This healthy one-pot dish is for fans of greens. 🙂 I thought that it could even work as a dish to serve for a small-scale Thanksgiving feast because it incorporates bread (stuffing), greens (vegetables), and chicken (poultry). It would just need potatoes on the side- which is actually how my husband ate the leftovers. 😉 It was a pre-Thanksgiving meal for us because my crowd prefers a more indulgent feast on the big day. We did end the meal with apple pie bars.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Melissa Perello. It was inspired by chef Judy Rodgers’ famous wood-fired roasted chicken at Zuni Café in San Francisco. I kept waiting for chard to appear in my CSA box so that I could make it. This dish gobbled up all of the chard, kale, and beet greens from my share! The capers and golden raisins made the base of the dish extra delicious.

Yield: Serves 4 to 8

  • 8 to 10 oz (about 1/2 loaf) day-old peasant bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (I used a pain au levain boule)
  • 4 to 6 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 T salted capers, rinsed well
  • 4 T golden raisins
  • 1 1/2 pounds tender fresh greens such as Swiss chard, kale, spinach, or beet greens (the original recipe uses Swiss chard)
  • 3 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 skinless bone-in chicken thighs or one 3 1/2 pound chicken, skinned and cut into 8 pieces
  • fresh thyme and parsley, for garnish, optional
  1. Prepare the Greens: If using Swiss Chard: Remove the stems and finely slice or chop; slice leaves in half through the ribs and cut into 2-inch ribbons. If using Kale: Remove ribs and discard; tear leaves in half and slice into 1/2-inch ribbons. If using Spinach or Beet greens: Remove stems and slice leaves into 2-inch ribbons. Wash and spin dry.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°, preferably on convection.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the bread cubes with the olive oil, capers, raisins, prepared greens, shallots, and garlic. Season with salt and black pepper.
  4. Spread the bread-greens mixture in a large enameled cast-iron casserole. (My pan was almost overflowing!)
  5. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and arrange them over the bread. Sprinkle with dried thyme.
  6. Cover the chicken with a piece of parchment paper and close the casserole with a heavy lid. Bake the chicken for 35 minutes.
  7. Remove the lid and parchment paper and increase the oven temperature to 400°.
  8. Bake the chicken for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until golden on top and cooked through.
  9. Remove the casserole from the oven and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve the chicken with the bread and greens, garnished with fresh herbs.

Skillet Phyllo Pie with Butternut Squash, Kale, & Feta

This is another “healthyish” cast iron skillet recipe from Bon Appétit. It was almost my entire CSA box in a pie. 🙂 I incorporated CSA leeks, butternut squash, and Toscano kale. Very seasonal- perfect.

I had an abundance of kale, so I made the pie in a large (12-inch) skillet. I also incorporated kohlrabi greens. Because this recipe is very adaptable, the finished pie size can be modified depending upon the volume of filling. Any other greens would work too.

The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Anna Jones. The lemon zest was essential. We had a green salad made with my CSA romaine lettuce on the side. 🙂

Yield: 6 servings

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 2 large leeks, white and light green portions, cut into 1/4-inch half-moons and soaked OR 2 medium red onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 small butternut squash (about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale, ribs and stems removed, thinly sliced into 1/4-inch crosswise ribbons (I used about 8 cups) 
  • 2 to 3 large eggs, beaten to blend (I used 3 eggs for a 12-inch pie)
  • 3 ounces Parmesan, grated (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (I used the zest of one lemon)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces frozen phyllo pastry, thawed (half a 1-pound package)
  • 4 to 6 ounces fresh goat cheese or feta, crumbled, divided
  1. Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 400°, preferably on convection.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium. Add leeks or onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, 6–8 minutes.
  3. Add squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost tender, 8–10 minutes.
  4. Mix in thyme and red pepper flakes and transfer to a large bowl; let cool.
  5. Wipe out and reserve skillet.
  6. Add kale, eggs, Parmesan, and lemon zest to squash mixture and gently mix to combine; season with salt and pepper.
  7. If using 6 ounces of cheese, incorporate 2 ounces into the kale-squash mixture.
  8. Working quickly so that the phyllo doesn’t dry out, layer phyllo sheets inside reserved skillet, letting 2-3 inches hang over the edge. (I placed them in a circular fashion. I also brushed some oil between every few layers.)
  9. Spoon kale-and-squash mixture into phyllo and dot top with cheese.
  10. Brush edges of phyllo lightly with oil and fold over filling, overlapping slightly, leaving center exposed.
  11. Cook pie over low to medium-low heat until bottom of pastry is just golden (carefully lift up on one side with a heatproof rubber spatula so that you can take a peek), about 3 minutes.
  12. Transfer skillet to oven and bake pie until kale is wilted and tender and phyllo is golden brown and crisp, 20–25 minutes.
  13. Let pie cool in skillet at least 10 to 15 minutes before slicing into wedges.

Do Ahead: Pie can be baked 6 hours ahead. Let cool; store uncovered at room temperature.

Chickpeas & Kale in Spicy Pomodoro Sauce

This dish was also named one of Food and Wine Magazine’s “40 Best” in their 40th anniversary issue. It was super delicious.

The recipe was contributed by Missy Robbins of Lilia in Brooklyn. She was also named a “Best New Chef” in a previous issue. The genius of this dish is that Robbins substitutes chickpeas and kale for pasta in her spicy pomodoro sauce. It still tasted rich and indulgent for a “healthy” dish. I increased the amount of garlic and incorporated my CSA red kale. The inclusion of fennel seeds added subtle sweetness. We ate it with a crusty baguette to soak up all of the sauce- a little bit less healthy but crazy good.

I hope to make this dish repeatedly with my CSA kale. I absolutely love dishes that make kale a crowd-pleaser! 🙂

Yield: Serves 4

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over low heat. (I used an enameled cast iron pot.)
  2. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until very fragrant 
but not browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper and a generous pinch of salt. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and 
the sauce is thickened, about 25 minutes.
  4. Stir the kale into the sauce and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in the chickpeas and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt.
  6. Spoon into bowls and garnish with herbs. Top with finely grated pecorino and serve hot.

Braised Harissa Eggplant

I must admit that we have been a little bit frazzled lately during our adjustment to the “back to school” schedule. Especially me. :/

This is the first of several quick weeknight dinners (aka “back to school dinners”) that will hopefully help others in the same situation out there. This recipe was adapted from Mediterranean Every Day by Sheela Prakash, via Food 52.com. I modified the proportions. It gobbled up my CSA box! 🙂

My husband and son ate it over grilled chicken thighs and rice to make it a little bit more hearty. I absolutely loved it served simply over rice.

Yield: Serves 2 to 4 (4 with grilled chicken)

  • 2 tablespoons (45 milliliters) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 (about 3/4 to 1 pound, or 340 to 454 grams, total) eggplant cut into 1/2-inch (1-centimeter) cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 large yellow onion or 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon (7.5 grams) harissa, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 to 1 pound (340 to 454 grams) plum tomatoes, or Roma tomatoes, chopped (I used a large (3/4 pound) CSA tomato)
  • 1/2 (7.5-ounce, or 212.5 grams) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 bunch (about 4 ounces, or 114 grams) lacinato kale, stemmed, leaves torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • rice, couscous, quinoa, or bread, for serving, as desired
  • grilled chicken thighs, for serving, as desired
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the eggplant, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned in spots but not completely tender. Transfer the eggplant to a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil to the pot.
  4. Add the onion and sauté until softened and translucent,3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic, harissa, cumin, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  6. Stir in the tomatoes, chickpeas, and eggplant and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  7. Simmer, uncovered, until the eggplant is meltingly tender and the tomatoes have broken down into a thick, chunky sauce, 25 to 30 minutes.
  8. Stir in the kale and cook until the leaves are bright green and tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
  9. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
  10. Taste and season with additional salt and harissa, as needed.
  11. Serve over rice, couscous, quinoa, or bread with or without grilled chicken, as desired.

Spiced Chickpea Stew with Coconut Milk & Turmeric

This creamy and indulgent vegetarian stew was hearty and delicious. The dish is based on Southern Indian chickpea stews and some stews found in the Caribbean. I loved how it was loaded with greens (I used Swiss chard) and toppings. An added bonus is that the stew and toppings are made in one pot.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Alison Roman. I doubled the onions and garlic, used rainbow chard, and substituted parsley for mint. We ate it over Basmati rice with warm naan on the side. Wonderful!

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 4 to 8 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 to 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 (2-inch) piece ginger, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • ground coriander and/or ground cinnamon, to taste, if desired
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, spinach, kale or collard greens, stems removed, torn into bite-size pieces (I used rainbow chard)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, or mint leaves, for serving
  • yogurt, for serving, optional (I used 2% Greek yogurt)
  • toasted naan, pita, lavash or other flatbread, for serving, optional
  • Basmati rice, for serving, optional
  1. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large pot over medium. Add garlic, onion and ginger. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent and starts to brown a little at the edges, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric, 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, (ground coriander and/or ground cinnamon- as desired) and the chickpeas, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, so the chickpeas sizzle and fry a bit in the spices and oil, until they’ve started to break down and get a little browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove about a cup of chickpeas and set aside for garnish.
  3. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, further crush the remaining chickpeas slightly to release their starchy insides. (This will help thicken the stew.) Add coconut milk and stock, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any bits that have formed on the bottom of the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until stew has thickened, 30 to 35 minutes. (Taste a chickpea or two, not just the liquid, to make sure they have simmered long enough to be as delicious as possible.) If after 30 to 35 minutes, you want the stew a bit thicker, keep simmering until you’ve reached your desired consistency. Determining perfect stew thickness is a personal journey! (I continued to cook the stew to a thicker consistency.)
  5. Add greens and stir, making sure they’re submerged in the liquid. Cook until they wilt and soften, 3 to 7 minutes, depending on what you’re using. (Swiss chard and spinach will wilt and soften much faster than kale or collard greens.) Season again with salt and pepper.
  6. Divide among bowls, over rice (if desired) and top with mint/parsley, reserved chickpeas, a sprinkle of red-pepper flakes and a good drizzle of olive oil.
  7. Serve alongside yogurt and toasted pita or naan, if using; dust the yogurt with turmeric if you’d like.

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