Tag Archives: kale

Creamy Shells and Yogurt

A few years ago, I made Avocado Soup. It was a cold, gazpacho-esque soup made with yogurt, avocados, and seasonings. Hardly any liquid and served cold, it has gone down in history as one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever served for dinner. Nowadays I would have revamped it as a dip or a sauce, but four years ago it just went in the trash. And with it, my desire to use yogurt as anything more than something to eat with granola or occasionally in baking.

Creamy Shells and Yogurt | thepajamachef.com

With that history of yogurt as a dinner ingredient, it came as a surprise to me when I saw this Creamy Shells and Yogurt recipe online and decided to make it. I know warm yogurt sounds weird, but hear me out. This is totally not what you think. Here, Greek yogurt makes a surprisingly delicious rich pasta sauce when combined with eggs and cheese.

Creamy Shells and Yogurt | thepajamachef.com

As the sauce comes together, it is almost reminiscent of a rich macaroni and cheese. It is truly one of those dishes that you just have to taste to truly understand.

Creamy Shells and Yogurt | thepajamachef.com

The eggs, cheese, and yogurt come together to make a tangy sauce that tastes rich while being actually pretty light, but the true star of the sauce are fresh herbs and lots of lemon zest. I used lemon thyme and mint for my herbs, but you could use whatever you have on hand. I think parsley, basil, oregano, or any of the usual suspects would work perfectly–but do try the minty lemon combo if you can. It is divine! For a little extra something-something I added some kale to the mix. You know how I love my kale!

Creamy Shells and Yogurt | thepajamachef.com

Everything about this dish screams summer, and even though I only made this pasta a couple weeks ago, I’m craving it so badly now and am wondering if I can justify dirtying up the {clean} kitchen at 10:30 pm just for a small bedtime snack. Of yogurt pasta. And this after making Pumpkin Soup for dinner and telling Ben how I just cannot WAIT for apple picking, apple cider, pumpkin chocolate chip mini muffins, and all the joys of fall [which do NOT include football, thankyouverymuch. That's Ben's department.]. I am so seasonally confused. I want it all, summer and fall. But most of all, I want a big bowl of Creamy Shells and Yogurt. It is totally a bright and cheery summer comfort food. I am sooo glad to have tried this pasta–hope you will too!

a year ago… Oatmeal Buttermilk Bread
two years ago… Chorizo and Potato Tacos
three years ago… Taco Casserole

Creamy Shells and Yogurt [adapted from Big Girls Small Kitchen]
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Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces shell pasta
  • 8 ounces plain Greek yogurt [whole or 2%]
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup mint, chopped + more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon lemon thyme, chopped
  • 3 green onions
  • zest of 1 small lemon
  • 1 ounce Mozzarella, shredded or cubed + more for serving
  • 1 large handful kale [~1.5 cups]
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • crushed red pepper
  • salt

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to boil, then add shells and cook to al dente.

Meanwhile, whisk together yogurt, eggs, mint, lemon thyme, green onions, lemon zest, and Mozzarella. Wash kale, remove thick stems, and tear into small pieces.

When pasta is ready, drain and reserve ~ 1/2 cup cooking water. Return pasta to pot and stir in kale. Then add 6 tablespoons water to yogurt sauce and whisk well to temper egg. Pour yogurt sauce over pasta and kale and stir vigorously to coat. Keep stirring until Mozzarella melts, then season to taste with peppers and salt as desired. Serve with additional mint and cheese as desired.

Time: 20 minutes.

Yield: 3-4 servings.

Linked up with: What’s Cookin’ Wednesday.

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Chopped Kale Salad with Bleu Cheese & Bacon

Kale. Seriously can’t get enough of it. Ben can’t either. No complaints here.

Chopped Kale Salad | thepajamachef.com

Normally, our kale is cooked–in pasta, fried rice, or as a base for chicken or pork. But this time, I decided to do something different and make a chopped kale salad. That’s right… raw kale, chopped into a billion teeny tiny bites and tossed with a fabulous array of toppings and the most spectacular dressing ever. Intrigued?

Chopped Kale Salad | thepajamachef.com

What makes this salad special and different is ALL the tastes and textures going on. Crisp carrots, sweet apples, salty bacon, pungent bleu cheese, tart cranberries, crunchy toasted almonds. And a sweet peanut butter-maple vinaigrette that is nothing short of amazing. I was literally eating it with a spoon, for goodness sake! It has a peanut butter base, so that’s totally legit, right?

By the way, if you aren’t the biggest fan of bleu cheese, don’t let this scare you. There’s only enough to give a hint of the flavor, but if you like it you can always substitute feta or parmesan. I don’t always include cheese in my salads but it really works in this one, to make it more substantial. Just FYI.

Chopped Kale Salad | thepajamachef.com

I threw this recipe together quickly on a busy night when we were headed to a small group dinner, and it was all but polished off. Fortunately, there was enough leftovers to enjoy for lunch the next day, but the salad definitely got a little soggy on day 2 so I would recommend adding the dressing just before serving if at all possible. I only made this a couple weeks ago and am totally craving it now, as I write this at 10:27 pm. I have a feeling this salad is going to become a regular in our house and I hope it will in yours too! Enjoy!

So you tell me… have you ever had a kale salad before? What are your go-to [kale] salad mix-ins?

a year ago… Man Cupcakes
three years ago… Creamy Baked Spaghetti

Chopped Kale Salad with Bleu Cheese and Bacon [dressing adapted from Iowa Girl Eats]
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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 bunches kale
  • 1 1/3 cups red cabbage
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 large Fuji apple
  • 3 ounces bleu cheese, crumbled
  • 5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • freshly ground black pepper

dressing

  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter

Directions:

Wash and dry kale, then tear into small bite-size pieces, discarding thick stems. Add to a large bowl and set aside.

Wash and dry cabbage, carrot, and apple, then shred. I used my food processor but a grater would also work. Add to kale, along with bleu cheese, bacon, almonds, and cranberries.

Whisk together balsamic, olive oil, maple syrup, and peanut butter until smooth to make dressing, then drizzle half over the salad. Toss to combine, and add more dressing as desired. I used about 3/4 of the total dressing made. Season with black pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

Time: 20 minutes.

Yield: 10-12 side salads, 3-4 meal size salads.

Linked up with: Tuesday Talent Show.

Kale Pesto Pasta

If you read my menu plans with any regularity, you might notice that our vegetarian meals tend to fall into one of three categories: black beans, eggs, and kale. Before we got married, I never thought Ben would be a guy who enjoyed vegetarian meals, and I certainly didn’t think he’d be a kale aficionado. But he is, and I am grateful because it’s healthier and easier on the budget to eat vegetarian meals a night or two per week. One of our fave veg meals is Lemony Kale Pasta, and once I saw this recipe, I knew that we had to try it. I am so glad we did, because it is absolutely amazing!!

Kale Pesto Pasta | thepajamachef.com

I’m a big fan of pesto in any form–classic basil, sundried tomato, and now, kale. Pesto can totally be made with a variety of herbs/greens, nuts, and cheese–this version is flavored with just a few fresh ingredients: kale, walnut, garlic, and lemon. And don’t forget the cheese! I used asiago, but Parmesan or any other hard or semi-hard Italian cheese would also work. I just love the flavor of Asiago… and have since my first taste of those famous Panera bagels. :) But back to this pesto. I could just eat it by the spoonful, sans pasta. It is utterly heavenly!

Kale Pesto Pasta | thepajamachef.com

Each bite is a burst of nutty, lemony, cheesy flavor. This is a great starter kale recipe, since there are many other strong flavors in the sauce. If you aren’t into lemon, or don’t have one lying around, it can easily be omitted but I highly recommend it! The flavors just go so well together.

Kale Pesto Pasta | thepajamachef.com

I can’t wait to make this pesto again. I think it would be a fabulous appetizer or light lunch–you could spread it on mini toasts, use it as a breadstick or veggie dip, or as a pizza sauce… or really, however you use pesto normally. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! What do you use pesto for? I’m in search of excuses to make this pesto again soon. :)

Kale Pesto Pasta [slightly adapted from What Megan’s Making]
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Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup + 2 tablespoons walnuts
  • 1 large bunch kale, stems discarded, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup grated asiago cheese [2 ounces] + more for topping
  • 1 clove garlic
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 12 ounces fusilli or other short pasta

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet until fragrant, about 6-8 minutes. Cool, then chop 2 tablespoons of walnuts and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil, then add kale and boil for 30 seconds. Remove kale to colander, saving the cooking water. Return to a boil, then add pasta to water and cook according to package directions.

Meanwhile, add asiago, garlic, ½ cup walnuts, lemon zest, and pepper to a food processor. Use spatula to press kale against side of colander to squeeze out excess water. Add kale to food processor and pulse until finely chopped. With food processor running, pour oil in through the feed tube in a steady stream.

When pasta is cooked, reserve ½ cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return to pot. Add the pesto along with ¼ cup cooking water, tossing to coat. If pasta seems dry, add more water as necessary. Serve pasta with additional toasted walnuts and grated asiago.

Time: 30 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings.

Linked up with: Tuesday Talent Show.

Sweet Potato and Kale Egg Bake

Since this week has been all about breakfast so far, why not continue the trend? For Friday, this meal is a little less sweet than the waffles and oatmeal I shared before, but less sweet does not equal less tasty. No, no, no. Sweet Potato and Kale Egg Bake is a hearty, cheesy, veggie-filled breakfast that you do NOT want to miss!

Sweet Potato and Kale Egg Bake | The Pajama Chef

This easy egg casserole can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It is just so good! I filled the classic bread-egg-milk bake with healthy kale, tangy red onions, and two kinds of potatoes! I personally thought the shredded sweet potatoes added a ton of flavor, while the roasted white potatoes  [I used Russet, but use whatever you have on hand] were a great base for all the yummy veggies. Oh! And what egg bake doesn’t get better topped with a big handful of sharp cheddar cheese? This one is no exception.

Sweet Potato and Kale Egg Bake | The Pajama Chef

We enjoyed this egg bake for dinner one night, then saved the leftovers for breakfast over the next few days. It heats up beautifully and is a great start to your day! Enjoy! :)

Sweet Potato and Kale Egg Bake [a TPC original]
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Ingredients:

  • 2 large Russet potatoes, cubed
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 a large red onion, diced
  • 1/2 a bunch kale, rinsed, dried, and chopped into bite size pieces
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces day-old bread, cubed
  • 1 large sweet potato, shredded
  • heaping 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Place cubed Russet potatoes on a large baking sheet. Season with freshly ground black pepper, then drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Roast in oven for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through.

In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until soft, about 4-5 minutes. Then add kale and toss to coat with oil, then cover for 2-3 minutes and cook until wilted.

In a large bowl, gently stir together eggs, milk, seasonings, bread cubes, and sweet potato. Pour mixture into prepared pan, then add roasted potatoes. Top with onion and kale mixture, pressing into the eggs. Cover with shredded cheese and more pepper as desired.

Bake, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes or until cooked through.

Time: 75 minutes [10 minutes active].

Yield: 8-10 servings.

Kale Fried Rice

I must say, I was a bit skeptical when I first saw this recipe posted on Kristin’s blog. I mean, fried rice is great and so is kale, but the two together? Kinda weird, eh? Umm, no. Turns out, most definitely not.

Kale Fried Rice | The Pajama Chef

This is our new favorite dinner!! Well, maybe not our but most definitely mine. Ben likes it, but I devour it. What can I say? I know what I like. And I like this… this salty-sweet, nutty, garlicky, chewy fried rice starring everyone’s favorite healthy green–kale–and just enough egg and chicken to make your manly man happy for some filling protein.

Kale Fried Rice | The Pajama Chef

I am hard-pressed to tell you just what’s so great about this dish. The sauce is pretty phenomenal. Made up of white cooking wine, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, and… wait for it… MAPLE SYRUP [also known in our house as may-PELLL sir-RUUUUP. Yes, we are weird. Thanks for asking.], this sauce is pretty much incredible. It’s unmistakably Asian, but with a bit of unexpected sweetness. Totally craveable, I can see this being a great marinade for grilled chicken, tofu, or even some fish. Maybe add a little crushed red pepper… mmm, mmm.

Kale Fried Rice | The Pajama Chef

Beyond the sauce, though, fried rice is a great easy weeknight dinner. It’s super quick, especially if you make the rice ahead of time [see the note at the end for details!]. Plus, it’s practically a one-skillet meal. The original recipe didn’t call for chicken or eggs, but I added them to make it a bit more filling. Totally not necessary though–it’s great without!! No matter how you make it, I seriously can’t get enough! I’ve made this for dinner two weeks in a row, and it’s on the menu plan again this week. I am hopelessly addicted. There are worse addictions, right? :) Enjoy!!

P.S. If you missed it, be sure to check out my birthday post from Saturday… I turned 28 and have big culinary goals for the next 2 years in my 30 before 30 project. :)

Kale Fried Rice [adapted from Iowa Girl Eats]
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Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups brown rice
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves torn into bite size pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken, shredded [I used some from a roasted chicken]
  • 4 tablespoons white cooking wine
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • sesame seeds, for garnish
  • sliced green onions, for garnish ,

Directions:

Prepare rice in chicken broth according to package directions.***

After rice is almost done, bring water to boil in a large skillet or wok. Then add kale and reduce heat to medium, cooking for 4-5 minutes until tender. Drain kale in a colander set in the sink and leave to cool.

Return skillet to stove then heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, use a spatula to press as much water out of the draining kale as you can. A few presses against the side of the colander should squeeze out a lot of water.

After onion is soft, add garlic and saute for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add kale and chicken, and saute for 2 minutes.

Next, whisk together wine, soy sauce, sesame oil, and maple syrup.

Reduce heat to medium, then dd rice to skillet and toss to combine. Pour in sauce and toss again. Cover and cook until rice is heated through, about 5 minutes [note: this step is not necessary if rice has not been refrigerated.]

Lastly, make a hole in the center of the rice mixture and pour in the eggs. Quickly stir eggs into the rice mixture to incorporate, then cook for another 2 minutes to ensure eggs are fully cooked.

Serve with lots of sesame seeds and green onions as garnish!

Time: 20 minutes [if you make rice ahead of time], 60 minutes [if you make rice fresh].

Yield: 4 servings.

***Note: I usually make the rice  a day or so ahead of time, as day-old refrigerated rice tends to work better for fried rice and this step takes 40-45 minutes.

Linked with: Weekend Potluck.