Kale, spinach, Swiss chard are more than pretty colors | NevadaAppeal.com

Kale, spinach, Swiss chard are more than pretty colors

Bev Bennett
Tribune Media Services
Kale with Spaghetti and Gorgonzola Cheese.
Jim Frost |

As you switch from warm-weather salads to fall soups, stews and pasta dishes, dark, leafy greens will be a welcome addition.

Kale, spinach and Swiss chard are more than pretty colors on the plate. These greens have sweet, intense flavors that enhance your meals.

However, if you’re used to the instant gratification you get tearing a head of lettuce into a bowl, you’ll have to be patient when you’re preparing a dish with dark greens.

Spinach, the most tender of the deep-hued greens, cooks in less than 5 minutes; Swiss chard takes a little more time. Hardy kale can take 15 minutes or longer.

The mound of greens facing you as you begin preparation may also be a surprise. Relax. Greens are mostly water, and as they cook, they lose volume. A cup of raw spinach yields about one-third that when cooked. Kale and Swiss chard shrink to half the raw amount.

You can whittle kale down even further by removing the tough stems before cooking. This step isn’t necessary for spinach or Swiss chard.

The following recipe for kale in a luscious Gorgonzola sauce makes an appealing entree for Sunday supper or a weeknight dinner. You may substitute spinach if you prefer.

Kale with Spaghetti and Gorgonzola Cheese

Makes 2 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

1 small bunch fresh kale, stems removed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large shallot, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1⁄2 cup chicken broth (see note)

4 ounces spaghetti

Salt

1⁄3 cup half-and-half

1⁄2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

1⁄4 teaspoon pepper

Wash kale leaves and chop into small bite-size pieces. Do not dry kale.

Heat oil in large skillet. Add kale, shallot and garlic. Be careful: the oil may sputter. Cook over medium heat for 5 to 8 minutes or until shallot is tender. Add chicken broth. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until kale is tender.

While kale is simmering, cook spaghetti in a large pot of salted water until tender but firm at the center, about 10 minutes. Drain well. Stir spaghetti, half-and-half, cheese and pepper into kale. Simmer for 2 minutes for cheese to melt in.

Note: for a vegetarian dish, substitute vegetable broth. Add a pinch of salt if desired.

Each serving (without salt used for cooking pasta) has: 490 calories; 21 grams total fat; 19 grams protein; 55.5 grams carbohydrates; 36.5 milligrams cholesterol; 655 milligrams sodium and 3.5 grams dietary fiber.

• Bev Bennett is the author of “30 Minute Meals for Dummies,” John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2003.