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Chicken and Kale Casserole

By 7:42 PM , , , , , ,

I think casseroles have gotten a bad name.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the ingredients list of many include some kind of condensed canned soup or perhaps that so often they are an indiscernible mish mash of goodness knows what. 

This isn't the case with this hearty and delicious casserole recipe that I pulled out of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food back last fall.

This is beyond easy to make and creates a huge amount of food.  The result is tons of leftovers or a perfect potluck dish. If you are a small family like us, I would recommend dividing this into 2 dishes right before sticking in the oven - freeze one and bake the other as directed (I'll be doing that next time).

Both the husband and I were big fans of this.  It is stick to your ribs kind of food without tasting overwhelmingly heavy - thanks to the use of lemon zest and a lighter ricotta . This is also a great way to get some greens in your (and your children's) diets as well.

 A few notes:
- I increased the amount of garlic to 4 cloves. I think I could have even added a 5th clove.
- I definitely used more Parmesan than the 3/4 cup the recipe calls for. I used 3/4 cup in the mixture and about 1/3 - 1/2 cup on top. You can never go wrong when adding more cheese!!!
- I added about 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes into the mixture prior to topping with cheese. If you like a little heat, definitely add some pepper flakes.
-  I used chopped frozen kale that I had purchased from Trader Joe's in lieu of fresh kale, which worked out great.  If you go this route, thaw the kale in a colander so that the liquid can drain out. I cooked the kale in a separate pan according to package instructions for 5 minutes, then returned to the colander to drain. And then I followed this recipe.


Chicken and Kale Casserole

Coarse salt and ground pepper
3/4 pound large pasta shells
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, diced medium
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 bunches kale (1 1/2 pounds), tough stems and ribs removed, leaves coarsely chopped
2 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken (from 1/2 rotisserie chicken)
1 container (48 ounces) part-skim ricotta
3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
3/4 cup Parmesan, grated (2 1/4 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain; return to pot.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high. Add onion and garlic; cook until onion is beginning to soften, 4 minutes. Add kale, cover, and cook until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to pot with pasta.

Stir in chicken, ricotta, lemon zest, and 1/2 cup Parmesan; season with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; top with 1/4 cup Parmesan. Bake until top is golden, 30 minutes.

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