29 April 2012

Chicken & Kale Pasta Bake

I am slightly embarrassed to admit that my first experience with kale was two weekends ago.  A good friend made these amazing quinoa kale cakes with which I was so enthralled, I immediately went out and bought the biggest bunch of kale I could find.  Since then, I've made kale chips, kale scrambles, kale cakes and kale pasta.

This recipe is a modified version of one on Martha Stewart's website.  The flavor profile is bright and clean, mostly thanks to the lemon zest.  It's a filling, yummy meal and the leftovers are great when reheated the next day.  We made the whole meal in one pot, so clean up is a cinch.

Chicken & Kale Pasta Bake (6-8 servings)
  • 3 c whole wheat penne or rigatoni
  • 2 tbs Smart Balance Light or light butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced (we love garlic, so we went with 6)
  • 10-12 cups kale (about 2 pounds),
  • 2 tbs lemon zest
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 cups cooked chicken breast, diced or shredded
  • 24 oz reduced fat ricotta (you can use fat free, but it will be a bit drier)
  • 2 tbs fat free milk
  • 1 c parmesan, grated
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Wash, stem and dry your kale.  Coarsely chop and set aside.  

Cook your pasta in a very large pan or, if you have one, le creuset, according to directions.  Dump into strainer and set aside.  Put your pot back on the stove over medium high heat and melt your butter.  Add the onions and cook for 4 minutes, until they start to soften and become translucent.  Add garlic and cook together for 1 minute.  Add the kale, salt & pepper to the onions and stir to combine.  Cover and cook until kale is wilted, about 3 minutes.  Add the cooked pasta, lemon zest, chicken breast, ricotta, milk and 1/2 cup  parmesan.  Mix until well combined.  

Transfer to a baking dish and top with remaining parmesan.  Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Turn your broiler on high and remove the top of your baking dish.  Broil for 5 minutes to get a nice, golden crust on top.  Serve immediately.  

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