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Cavatappi with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Cannellini Beans & Kale

I don’t necessarily crave pasta — when I make it, particularly on a weeknight, it generally more of a convenience, and also code for there isn’t much else in the house.

This recipe I first saw on Amateur Gourmet, who gleaned it from Lidia Bastianich’s cooking show, and has been in his rotation for years – a go to weeknight dinner.  His version doesn’t call for kale, which also means it can be made straight from the pantry.  Pasta, beans, sun-dried tomatoes, red pepper flakes, garlic – that’s it.

I have made it before that way, but always felt it could use a little something.  Last night I happened to have a bunch of kale on hand (and not much else) so it was the perfect addition to a recipe that relied on little else fresh.

I think the dark greens are key, in fact I replace about ½ the pasta in the recipe with the greens (and could’ve added more if I had more).  They add interest in taste and texture, and add some nice color (and nutrients) to the mix.  I add the chopped kale with the sun-dried tomatoes, but think other hearty greens or broccoli rabe would work equally well.

What are your favorite pantry pastas?

Sun-dried tomatoes, kale & garlic

Sun-dried tomatoes, kale & garlic -- with white beans

images via my instagram feed (@caitlindentino)

chili night

While many of you may be enjoying {or hiding from} the dog days of summer, our cold grey San Francisco summer has arrived full bore, calling for parkas on the way to morning coffee.  But since we have had a pretty nice summer with plenty of days for seasonally-appropraite meals, I will do my best not to complain.  Plus, weather talk is boring.

I only bring it up to set the stage for chili dinner in August.

A big pot of giant black beans were already simmering on the stove when I decided that chili was in order.  I didn’t use a recipe, just a hodge-podge of versions I like, plus what I had on hand, plus what sounded good.  I wanted something like mom’s version growing up – maybe not authentic in Texas – but a kind that hits the spot.  Ground meat, or turkey generally in my case, beans, tomatoes and lots of spices.  Instead of stock for extra liquid, in addition to tomato sauce, I added a bottle of beer.  Once it simmered together, it became exactly what I was looking for.

We topped it with a bit of white cheddar, greek yogurt and green onion.  On the side, 101 Cookbook’s Firecraker Cornbread cooked in a cast iron skillet and a raw kale salad flecked with grated pear brought it all together.

I’m not going to lie, this little dinner got me pretty excited for Fall!

Turkey Chili, Firecracker Cornbread & Raw Kale Salad

Chili Toppings

Chili & Cornbread

Are you holding on to summer or ready for what’s next?  
I can’t decide, which I guess works with the Indian Summer/foggy day combo we have coming.


Well, this isn’t technically juice, although I lovingly refer to it as green juice.  It is in fact a  smoothie, but green smoothie doesn’t quite have the same ring.

I don’t have a juicer at home, and so many mornings, this is my go-to drink.  Plus, it still has all the fiber so it’s a bit more filling. Although, I have never been in the juice or smoothie is a meal camp – I usually have toast with peanut butter or avocado or an egg or in addition.

I have been wanting to share this version for a while – most of my friends now make this combo too – and my dad and grandmother even liked it.  It is super simple and it feels great to start the day with a big handful of green goodness.  (And in my mind, may balance the wine with dinner. :))

Green “Juice” Smoothie

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weeknight dinner

I am infinitely curious about what people eat and make for dinner at home.  Not “magazine” weeknight dinners, or even blogs that showcase only one component or require endless time, but real dinners.  To be honest, if I make dinner 3-4 nights a week, I consider that a HUGE success.  I know there will be a dinner or two out, plus perhaps take-out and a ‘single gals’ dinner of popcorn or wine and cheese.  

So once a week, I thought it would be fun to showcase a real weeknight dinner.  Some of course will be more fun than others, but that’s life, right?

As you can see here, these really aren’t turkey burgers, but the term ‘patties’ wasn’t all too appealing.

But, thankfully they tasted great.  Super simple turkey burgers – grilled with just salt, pepper, worcestershire & garlic powder – and topped with a big dollop of caramelized onions.  On the side was sautéed kale with garlic and chili (standard prep around here) and spinach salad with pears and gorgonzola.  Often times when I make turkey burgers, I add garlic, parsley, etc. – more like oversized meatballs – but here the theme was speed and ease.

What are your weeknight dinners?  Do you have a routine or mix it up?

Mushroom Ravioli with Sauteed Greens

I am infinitely curious about what people eat and make for dinner at home.  Not “magazine” weeknight dinners, or even blogs that showcase only one component or require endless time, but real dinners.  To be honest, if I make dinner 3-4 nights a week, I consider that a HUGE success.  I know there will be a dinner or two out, plus perhaps take-out and a ‘single gals’ dinner of popcorn or wine and cheese.  

So once a week, I thought it would be fun to showcase a real weeknight dinner.  Some of course will be more fun than others, but that’s life, right?


I really need to work on getting back in the swing of things.  I was in Dallas for work a few days last week, and it did not help my “regular” posting schedule. But, just before I left, I did make a quick dinner (and photograph it) for the weekly dinner series.  So here is last Wednesday’s, just a bit late…

Truth be told, I don’t generally buy a lot of stuffed pastas. But on Sunday at our neighborhood farmer’s market, my friend was picking up a few options from the Santa Cruz Pasta table and I decided to join in. Looks like I missed the boat on not buying these before.  I went with the mushroom this time (and loved them), and can’t wait to try other combos.

Cooking radicchio and kale

Cooked radicchio and kale

It didn’t hurt either that dinner came together in 15 minutes! While the water was boiling, I chopped and cooked a few pieces of bacon.  The ravioli cooked quickly (5 minutes) in the salted boiling water, during which time I sautéed some radicchio, kale and garlic with the bacon drippings and a touch of wine (pinch of chili flakes and fresh nutmeg too, for good measure).  Once the pasta was finished, I added it to the vegetable “sauce”, cooked it all together for about a minute more, and then finished it with some parmigiano.

Suffice to say, I have a feeling ravioli will be popping up around here a bit more often now.

Mushroom Ravioli

100 Vegetable Soup

I’m going to let you in on an embarrassing secret. I will sometimes count vegetables in a meal and if there is a high enough number, I feel like I won a prize. Am I 10?  Am I lame?  Please, don’t answer!  :)

For instance, that spaghetti with roasted vegetables, there were five different veggies. Not bad, I guess, but nothing special.

If you really want to win the lots-o’veg award, soup is a really good way to go.

loads o'veggies

Take this vegetable soup. I think there were 10 different vegetables – all different types and colors – with enough vitamins and minerals to counteract any chocolate cake that could follow.  Serve it with a glass of red wine and a garlicky tapenade (+2 for the antioxidant list) to keep the meal from feeling too ‘diety’ and leaving you unsatisfied.

This counting trick also works particularly well when say adding something (or things) green to macaroni and cheese or pizza.  Almost makes ’em health food, right?🙂


This soup I guess is minestrone-like, except without the pasta (because I abhor pasta in soup), and because I can make no claims to authentic Italian, I feel silly calling my vegetable soup by a real name.

Again, like many things I cook – there is no real recipe, particularly as the time changes based on the ingredients you have.  I always start with the basics – onion, carrot and celery in olive oil – and from there is really depends.  If I have fennel or leeks, I will add them a bit after the mirepoix, but before other veg. Things like potatoes and cauliflower take longer than zucchini, so they go in next.  I like to add them with the aromatics before any liquids to caramelize a bit and develop more flavor.  Then maybe a big can of whole tomatoes, smushed up a bit and a can or two of water, depending on how much I want to make.  After that, any other veg that take more than a minute or two – I hold the leafy greens until the end so they stay more vibrant. Don’t forget, salt and pepper at each stage – seasoning throughout is important!

Vegetable Soup

1,000 Vegetable Soup

My favorite little trick for a soup like this is to add beans for protein, but using a food processor or even a few forks, mush about half of the beans to add some thickness to the soup.  Here I use canned white beans, but things are always better if you have the time to make your own.  Cranberry beans would be super great here too.

Then, just let it all simmer for 15 minutes to develop the flavors – but not too long as you want all the vegetables to hold up.


Finally serve it with crusty bread, with maybe a quick tapenade or a pesto, a drizzle of olive oil and a few shavings of pecorino.

And of course, give yourself a quick pat on the back for having 1,000 vegetables for dinner!!

Vegetable Soup

Kale & Persimmon Salad with Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette

Just because this is the third recipe from from the ‘fall fiesta‘ does not mean it was the one I liked least – rather it may be my favorite!

Raw kale salads really wonderful – and while people may have been making them for years, I have really only been seeing (and enjoying) them for the last year or two.  They definitely feel a bit virtuous, but don’t let that distract from their absolute goodness.

Slicing persimmons

Because persimmons are in season, and I absolutely LOVE them – particularly raw, I thought they would be the perfect complement to the kale.  That and apples.  I think every kale salad I have had includes apples, and I see no reason to break the streak.

As for the dressing, I made a quick vinaigrette with garlic, lime juice and zest, ground cumin and agave in the well-honed fashion of many-a-vinaigrettes.  Chop garlic and let sit for about 10-15 minutes in the acid (lime juice and a touch of red-wine vinegar for balance), then add salt, a drizzle of agave (or honey), cumin, lime zest and stir.  While stirring, slowly drizzle in olive oil to your preferred flavor balance.  I like about 50% acid to oil, which is a bit more puckery than some may like…

Kale, Persimmon & Apple Salad

Another bonus for kale salads – unlike traditional greens – they can be dressed way in advance.  Which if you are having company, is always a plus.

This combo is really great for the season.  In fact, I like it so much, that I am going to make it again for some much needed balance to the Thanksgiving table.  Only thing, I may swap the dressing for a blue cheese-walmut version, much like The Year in Food’s version.  I mean, it will be Thanksgiving, after all.

Whatever the reason and which ever dressing, it will be something you will keep coming back to.  I promise.  :)

Kale, Apple & Persimmon Salad

Oh – quick thing, before slicing the kale leaves, make sure to remove the stem, as it is very tough.  As for the rest of it, it is just chop, mix and dress.  xx


Another day, another snow storm.

Seriously, I never knew winter could last thing long.  I know there are plenty of places that are much, much colder with much harsher weather, but this is enough for me. Particularly when I step onto what I think is the sidewalk, but is really a foot deep puddle of snow and sludge.

I dream of sunshine and tea parties and some asparagus!  Oh, and tomatoes, notfromacan but honesttogoodness real tomatoes that.grow.on.a.vine. Who knew these would become my dreams.

mushroom leek kale

But we aren’t quite there yet…

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Italian Wedding Soup in Pot

As the weather continues to dip, and everyone around you seems to have the sniffles, I think it is best to be armed with a few defenses.

My two cure alls:

  1. A good soup – I do not think it needs to be chicken noodle.
  2. Whiskey with hot water and lemon, maybe a touch of honey too.

But here we will only address the former – I’m sure any friend of mine already knows well enough how to purchase and consume whisky.

One of my favorites is Read the rest of this entry »


I am definitely more salty than sweet.

I meant that regarding my taste preferences, but those of you who know me may also think that pertains to more than just my favorite flavors.  But that is beside the point…

Around here, we are always on the look out for new snacks.  I really like ones that are easy enough to make for just me, but fun enough to have when friends stop by for drinks.  Extra bonus if they are light enough to not get in the way of dinner.  Or if plans are just drinks and lots of snacks (not uncommon in these parts), then something that won’t be like everything else we are munching (read bread and cheese and heavier bites)

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Martha Stewart I am not -
I have no intention of
whittling my own table
and can handle a martini
like nobody's business -
but I do have lots of
great ideas on cooking,
entertaining, and living
that I want to share with you.

Together, perhaps we can find
ways to have a bit more fun!


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