Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pasta with Healthy(er) Meatballs, Kale, Cannellini Beans and Tomato Jus

This is a yummy way to get kale into your family. I actually used collard greens, because I love them, but any dark, leafy green would work in this recipe. The meatballs are delish-- if you don't want to use ground turkey or sausage meat, use whichever minced meat you like with the same accompanying ingredients. And last, the tomato jus: So light and tasty-- perfect for this time of year.

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 medium leek, light green and white part only, washed well, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, peeled, minced or pressed
1 pound/425 grams ground (minced) turkey or chicken
1 pound/425 grams sausage meat
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs (homemade is better, or use crumbs of your choice)
3 tablespoons good quality, grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dry white wine
1/4 -1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (I like salt and used 1/2 t)

1) Heat the butter in a saute pan and saute the leeks and garlic until just soft ('sweat' them). Now, squish everything together with your hands in a large bowl, cover and set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, but up to 24 hours.

2) When ready to cook: Roll into small balls, about the size of a ping pong ball. Using a heavy saute pan (I like cast iron), pre heat the pan over medium heat, then place the balls in the dry pan (this is if you used good 'ol fatty sausage meat in the mix-- if you used a leaner meat, oil up the bottom of the pan). The pan can be full, but the meatballs should not touch. Saute, browning the outside until all the meatballs are golden/brown, then cover and allow to steam in their own juices for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the heat, shake the pan occasionally and make sure that the pan stays moist-- otherwise add in a bit of water). Remove the lid at the end to crisp up the meatballs. Makes about 48 meatballs-- more than you will need for this recipe. Enough to serve 8-12 people. Can easily be halved.

Pasta Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped kale, collards, chard or spinach
Sea or kosher salt
1/2 cup No Cook Tomato Sauce (or good quality, thick store-bought)
1/2 cup good quality chicken broth (or vegetable broth for a vegan sauce)
1 regular size tin of cannellini beans, drained/rinsed

1) Heat the oil over mediu-high heat then add in the greens and saute until wilting, turn the heat down, season with salt and allow to cook until getting soft (for heartier greens, like kale and collards, this takes about 5 minutes-- for spinach this happens instantly).

2) Add in the tomato sauce, broth and beans, stir well and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Cook 12 ounces of pasta until al dente. Toss with the sauce and snuggle in the meatballs. Serve with copious amounts of grated Parmesan cheese. Serves 4 adults or 4 little kids and 2 adults.

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