Chicken and Kale Casserole

We got a big, lovely bunch of kale in our CSA this week that needed a job.  I was contemplating something to do with it besides a soup, and found this casserole on Serious Eats (originally Martha Stewart, I think).  It’s nice for a summer casserole – lighter and very bright.  It made a ton of course, which was my intent…lots of lunches!  This was pretty easy to make a bit healthier with whole wheat pasta, part-skim cheeses, and Smart Balance instead of butter.

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  •     1/2 pound whole wheat pasta
  •     2 tablespoons unsalted butter or Smart Balance
  •     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
  •     1 container part-skim ricotta
  •     3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
  •     3/4 cup Parmesan, grated

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add the pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water before draining, then return the pasta to the pot.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat until the foam subsides, then add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, occasionally until the onion is soft, 5-7 minutes.

Add kale, cover, and cook until the kale is almost tender, about ten minutes more. Transfer mixture to the pot with the pasta.

Stir in ricotta, lemon zest, 1/2 cup of Parmesan, pasta water, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well, then transfer to a 9 x 13” baking dish and top with the remaining Parmesan. Bake until golden, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.

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