Kale, White Bean, Apple Sausage and Zucchini Ragout Recipe

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Looking for a way to eat your greens that not only pleases your palate, but satisfies even the pickiest of eaters? Look no further than this delish ragout that is chock full of healthy vegetables, tasty sausage and creamy fiber-filled beans.

I recently signed up for Backyard Produce, which is a weekly service that delivers fresh, local, organic produce straight to your door. You can either customize your basket by selecting each food your receive or select the variety basket which is full of that week’s best selections.

This week I chose kale, tomatoes, zucchini because I’m trying to eat more organic produce. When I came home and saw my box of fresh veggies on my porch, I was as excited as if it was my birthday! But then I quickly began racking my brain at how I could use up this produce in a way that was tasty and would lure my kids into eating it too.

Imagine my elation when I saw this recipe on Cooking Light for a Kale, white bean, zucchini, tomato and apple sausage ragout. It was chock-full of veggies and I had every ingredient in my pantry – score!

It was super simple to make and the flavors married beautifully. I was concerned because my past experiences with kale haven’t been great. Aside from kale chips, I don’t really like the flavor of kale. It is a bit too tough for a salad, too bitter to eat raw and doesn’t blend well in pasta or casseroles.

But kale is truly a super food and definitely worth giving another try. Kale is low in calories, high in fiber and has 0 grams of fat. It is high in iron, vitamin K, A, C and calcium. It’s also brimming with antioxidants. I tweaked the Cooking Light recipe a bit to meet my needs, such as using minced garlic instead of whole, eliminating the olive oil and onion and adding fresh tomato instead of canned.

Kale, White Bean, Apple Sausage and Zucchini Ragout

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 (4-ounce) links chicken sausage, cut into (1/2-inch) slices – I used Thin n Trim Apple Cinnamon Sausage
  • 1 zucchini, quartered and cut into (1/2-inch) slices (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 6 cups chopped trimmed kale (about 1/2 pound)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 (16-ounce) cans cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

  1. Brown sausage in a large saute pan and add garlic. Add zucchini and kale; cook 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, beans and water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve immediately.

Day 32: All Hail the Kale

I thought that kale was just that annoying green fluffy stuff that restaurants put on the side of your plate to “decorate” it. Boy was I wrong.

Do you remember the ORAC scale that I blogged about on Day 12 when I wrote about the health benefits of blueberries? Well, in case you don’t remember I’ll provide a little refresher…..the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale is the test used by the USDA and others to determine the antioxidant level of fruits and vegetables. Blueberries ranked #1 in the fruit category and kale ranked #1 in the vegetable category! Shocked again! I always thought that raspberries had the highest antioxidant level of any fruit and I assumed that spinach was the top vegetable (for some reason I always think of spinach as the healthiest vegetable. Maybe because of PopEye?) Kale received an ORAC rating of 1770, with spinach coming in second at 1260.

Kale is actually a relative of cabbage and contains powerful phytochemicals and cancer-fighting indoles, which are plant compounds that have been found to protect against breast, cervical and colon cancer. Kale is also high in sulforaphane, which I also blogged about in my post on broccoli on day 27 , which is great for removing free radicals and other chemicals that may cause cancer. A recent study in Journal of Nutrition demonstrated that sulforaphane helps stop breast cancer proliferation.

Additionally, kale contains phytonutrients that actually signal our genes to produce enzymes to detox our cells, eliminating harmful compounds. A study of Chinese women in Singapore, a city in which air pollution levels are often high putting stress on the detoxification capacity of residents’ lungs, found that in non-smokers, eating cruciferous vegetables lowered risk of lung cancer by 30%. In smokers, regular cruciferous vegetable consumption reduced lung cancer risk an amazing 69%!

Kale is also great for the eyes, as it contains two very important vision nutrients: Beta-Carotene and Vitamin A. One cup provides 192.4% of your Daily Value for Vitamin A and seven times the amount of beta-carotene as broccoli! Added bonus, 2 cups of kale has 4 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and only 66 calories.

So, how did I prepare my kale? A salad? Raw? Sautéed? Boiled? Nah, I didn’t go the traditional route, I made something absolutely amazing that you guys would never even believe could be done or taste good…..I made kale chips.

Yeah, you heard me right. I made kale chips, which is just like it sounds, crispy, salty, crunchy chips made with kale leaves. The best part: It was super easy and my three-year-old begged me for more!

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of fresh kale
  • sea salt
  • garlic powder
  • oregano or italian seasoning
  • olive oil

Instructions

If you would have told me a month ago that my daughter or I would enjoy eating kale, I wouldn’t believe you! I wasn’t even going to offer it to her because I thought she wouldn’t eat it, but she saw it come out of the oven and then asked me to try it. She not only ate the one I gave her, but she asked for another. My son, on the other hand, did not enjoy it. This challenge has taught me that you never know what you (or you kids) will like unless you try it. I have tried so many new foods in this first 31 days and I have been pleasantly surprised more than once.

Have you ever eaten kale? Have you ever been surprised by liking a food that you never thought you would like? Please share!