Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chicken and Kale Baked Pasta

Hey, you. Yeah you. You need this pasta in your life. It's creamy, and cheesy, and comforting, AND chocked full of healthy things. Which means this totally fits into your New Years Resolution diet. 

No really, I'm not kidding. Multigrain pasta? Check. Protein-packed chicken? Check. More than a pound of healthy greens? Check!

Seriously, have you gotten on this kale thing yet? If not, what are you waiting for?? It's super healthy, easy to cook, and tastes rich and delicious.

Still not convinced? I swear, this is the perfect vehicle to introduce kale into your world. The flavor definitely takes a back seat to the nutty Parmesan, creamy ricotta, and bright lemon. And the texture blends right in to the rest of the pasta.

It's a great way to get in those healthy veggies with the added bonus of comforting carbs and cheese. Seriously, is there anything better? I think not.

Chicken and Kale Baked Pasta
Yield: 6-8 servings

1 box (14.5 oz) multigrain rotini pasta
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 lb kale, tough stems and ribs removed, coarsely torn or chopped
1/3-1/2 cup chicken stock
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cut into pieces
48 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
Zest of two lemons
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and return to pot or very large bowl. Set aside.
2. In a large high-sided skillet or another deep pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until just fragrant, another minute.
3. Add the kale along with 1/3 cup chicken stock. Cover and allow the kale to steam for 2-3 minutes. Uncover the pot and stir, adding the additional chicken stock if the pan is too dry. Continue to cook, covered, until the kale is just tender, another 2-3 minutes.
4. Add the kale and onion mixture to the cooked pasta along with the chicken, ricotta cheese, lemon zest, and 1/2 cup Parmesan. Stir to combine.
5. Pour the pasta into a 9x13'' baking dish. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Bake 30 minutes or until the cheese is just starting to brown. Let rest 5 minutes. Serve warm, topped with additional grated Parmesan.

Recipe Notes:
  • I'm not sure why my box of pasta was only 14.5 oz instead of the usual 16, but you could definitely use a full pound with no other changes necessary.
  • If all of the kale won't fit in your pot at once, add just as much as will comfortably fit, adding more as the kale cooks down. Add the chicken stock more gradually to ensure it doesn't steam away before all the kale is cooked.
  • Obviously this is an easy dish to make vegetarian. Just leave out the cooked chicken, and substitute vegetable broth or water for the stock. 
  • If you're really not a fan of kale and I can't convince you otherwise, you could always substitute in fresh spinach or another leafy green.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart


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