You may remember last week’s post, where I told you all about my awesome partnership with Sobeys Inc and the Power Up With Green campaign (and that delicious spinach and sweet potato frittata recipe that you definitely have to go and try). Well, it’s a new week, so it’s time to power up with another tasty green! And I bet you can guess which green I’ve been cooking with (hint – it’s in the post title). Good ol’ hardy kale!
Kale is what I like to call a more “advanced green” (if you remember, I called spinach the gateway green). It has a hardier leaf, with a more pronounced bitter flavour. It is definitely not an offensive bitter flavour, but something you might need to get used to if you are new to the greens scene. What’s great about kale is that it stands up to cooking – great for soups, stews, and stir fries because it will keep it’s shape better than spinach, and doesn’t tend to get as slimy as spinach can when it’s cooked a lot. Kale is packed full of nutrients (think calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron), comes in a variety of colours (green, purple, black), and grows pretty much anywhere. If you are looking to stock your garden with greens this year, try out kale.
And just like it’s green buddy spinach, you can get kale in a variety of ways at the grocery store. There are bunches of fresh, mature kale leaves, bags of frozen chopped kale, and one of my favourites – baby kale. Yes, just like baby spinach, you can find clamshells of little kale leaves. Perfect for salads, pastas, smoothies, and more, as they require little to no prep, and have a milder taste that mature kale. Baby kale is also a little less toothsome, which might be important for some people.
To get you cooking with kale, I decided to cook up what I consider to be pretty much the ultimate comfort food – mac & cheese. Oh yes, that ooey gooey cheesy goodness coating perfectly cooked noodles. You know what I’m talking about. But I’ve taken the mac & cheese to another level – it still has all that cheesy goodness, but I’ve switched out the regular macaroni noodles for whole grain rotini, amped up the flavour with some grainy mustard, and of course added that baby kale. Nutritious, delicious, and pretty to look at? What’s not to love?
Oh Kale Yeah! Mac & Cheese (adapted from Sobeys’ Spinach Mac & Cheese)
Comfort food steps up its’ game with this mac & cheese. All that creamy cheesy goodness you want, but with whole grain noodles and nutrient packed baby kale. Paired with your favourite salad, it makes the perfect weeknight meal!
- 3 cups whole grain pasta (macaroni, rotini, penne – whatever you desire)
- 4 tbsp butter
- 4 tbsp all purpose flour
- 2 cups milk (I used 2%)
- 1 cup shredded old cheddar (the older the better!)
- 1 tbsp grainy mustard
- 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
- salt & pepper to taste
- 3 cups of baby kale, packed
- 1/2 cup herb and garlic croutons, crushed
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Cook pasta per package directions, until al dente.
3. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, stir and cook for 1 minute, without browning.
4. Lower the heat, and gradually whisk in milk. Stir until bubbles form around the edges, and sauce thickens. Do not boil.
5. Stir in cheddar cheese, mustard, worcestershire, and salt & pepper to taste. Keep warm over low heat until pasta is cooked through.
6. Drain pasta, and add it to the cheese sauce, along with the baby kale. Stir until combined and kale has wilted slightly. Transfer to baking dish, and top with crushed croutons.
7. Bake for 10 minutes, until top is crispy and golden brown.
Note: Because the cheese, mustard, and worcestershire sauce all have salt, taste your sauce before adding any – you might find you don’t need it!
Feeling inspired to get a little more green into your life? I hope so, because Sobeys is asking Canadians to share how better food choices have inspired them to live a better life for the chance to win a cooking lesson with Jamie Oliver in London, England. Until March 26, Canadians who post a photo or video and a brief description showing how better food choices have helped them eat better, feel better and do better along with the hashtag #BetterFoodForAll on Twitter or Instagram will be entered into the contest. How cool would that be, just for adding a little green into your next meal? Find out more details on their website, and get out there and share the power of greens!
Disclaimer – The author has received consideration from Sobeys or Sobeys’ media partners in exchange for this content. Sobeys has not reviewed these claims and is not responsible for the content. All opinions are the author’s own.