Thursday, April 28, 2011

worst thing ever

Frozen Kale.  That's it.  That is the worst thing ever.  Wanna know the second worst thing ever?  Frozen beans.  Yup, frozen beans.

I may be exaggerating slightly, as there are probably worse things, like war, famine, tornadoes eating the entire southeastern part of the country, Japan being swallowed up by the Pacific ocean, and the possibility that Obama really does possess an American birth certificate (sorry, couldn't resist).  Yet, as far as culinary experiences go (and aside from The Saffron Incident), frozen kale is absolutely the most disappointing.

Tonight was the second experience I've had with frozen kale and it was even more disappointing than the first.  I love kale so much fresh that I thought I'd hit a goldmine when frozen kale started popping up all over the freezers in Whole Foods...but it was more like a landmine, causing two recipes to more or less blow up in my face.  Not literally, thank heavens.  Story time!

A little while ago, can't remember just when, I was in the frozen foods aisle of Whole Foods and as I extracted whichever bag of organic goodness I had originally sought out, I noticed something different out the corner of my eye.  I looked closer and saw a little flat box with kale, kidney beans, and navy beans.  I thought to myself, "Hey, this might come in handy some night when I'm feeling lazy pressed for time!" and dropped it into my basket.  Well, tonight was that night, and I thought I would make a cheater version of my already pretty quick-cooking Easy Tuscan Linguini by subbing the frozen kale-n-beans side dish for the shredded kale and can of navy/cannellini beans in the original recipe.  Also, for a little added flavor (and to use up the other two Tofurky from Tuesday's Cajun Rice and Beans), I sliced the sausages and sauteed them lightly in olive oil before adding the frozen stuff.

I was so sad when the bag open and spilled kale stems and hard-looking beans into the pan...I had really hoped for a more substantial presence from the kale...and some leafy bits, I might add.  Nevertheless, I heated everything through, mixed it together with the marinara sauce and linguini and hoped for the best.  It was "decent" as long as you ignored that the kidney beans were not thoroughly cooked before being frozen or they don't freeze well, because they were crunchy and that is not a quality I seek out in my kidney beans.  However, I still believe this has a lot of potential as a fast-and-easy weeknight recipe, as long as you substitute organic frozen spinach or fresh kale - not frozen kale; it's gross.  So, I promised you a recipe and a recipe you get (modified, so there's a chance you'll actually enjoy it):

Pasta Marinara with Kale and Beans
* about 4 servings *
24 oz prepared marinara of your choice
1 cup canned kidney beans
1 cup canned navy/great northern beans
2 Tofurky sausages, flavor of your choice (I used Kielbasa)
2-3 cups fresh kale, finely chopped or 10 oz block of frozen chopped organic spinach 
8 oz linguini (whole wheat if your loved one will eat it - mine won't)
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 Tbsp olive oil

Boil water for pasta, then cook according to package directions, about 10-11 minutes.  Drain.

Meanwhile, cut each "sausage" in half lengthwise, then slice into 1/2" pieces.  If using fresh kale, chiffonade or chop finely and set aside.  When the pasta is halfway through cooking time, heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the garlic about 30 seconds, until fragrant and slightly golden.  Add sausage and stir to coat with oil.  Saute on medium for 2-3 minutes, stirring once, then reduce heat to medium-low.  Add kale, beans, and marinara; stir to combine, then cover and cook 2-3 minutes, until heated through and kale is lightly wilted. [if using frozen spinach, you'll want to thaw and drain it first, then add with the beans and marinara.]

Add drained pasta to the pot and toss to combine.  Remove from heat and serve immediately, preferably accompanied by a small bowl of mixed olives and a generous glass of red wine.


  1. I laughed out loud at your Obama comment... sadly.

    Too bad frozen kale sucks! It had such promise. :(

  2. What? you mean you aren't horrified that he might be legit? :D

    My sentiments exactly re: the kale. So sad.... fortunately, I don't have any trouble getting fresh kale where I live.