Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hearty Kale, Bean, and "Sausage" Ragout

I've been making this dish for years. It's SO simple, yet so delicious. It's a thick, hearty, nutrient packed, comfort-food-status pretty little feast :).

I consider kale a SUPERFOOD- it's a nutritional powerhouse packed with  vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals- substances associated with the prevention of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension.  One cup of cooked kale provides 36 calories, 354% the daily value for vitamin A, 88% the daily value for vitamin C, 1,327% the daily value for vitamin K, 10% the daily value for fiber, and 9% of the daily value for calcium.

Kale is also a rich source of glucosinolates, sulfur-containing compounds that give kale and other cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, califlower, cabbage, etc.) their aroma and taste. Glucosinolates break down into biologically active compounds  including indoles and isothiocyanates. According the the Linus Pauling Institute, these compounds could help prevent cancer by enhancing the removal of carcinogens before they can damage DNA, or by altering cell-signaling pathways in order to prevent normal cells from becoming cancerous. Some glucosinolate hydrolysis products may influence hormones in ways that inhibit the development of hormone-sensitive cancers. 

So, EAT KALE!

Ok, ok,  no more science . . . onto the recipe ;) 


I got this recipe from Cooking Light, but modified it slightly to fit my preferred calorie, protein, and carbohydrate preferences. I also substituted the chicken sausage for Trader Joe's Vegetarian Sausage. Trader Joe's brand seriously has the best vegetarian sausage out there. These links are higher in protein, lower in calories, and lower in CHO's than it's competitors (Tofurky, Lightlife, etc.). AND they win the taste test hands down. No "fake" chemically taste that I notice in some other brands. Anyway, you are more than welcome to use chicken sausage instead. Applegate Organics makes a wonderful chicken sausage that is only 140 calories and packs 14 g of protein. The best part? It has a short, simple ingredient list - no hidden additives or weird ingredients. The chicken and apple sausage would be great with this ragout. (Ingredients: organic chicken, organic dried apples, sodium lactate (from beets) and  less than 2% of the following: sea salt, organic apple juice concentrate, organic spices, organic garlic.



Hearty Kale, Bean, and "Sausage" Ragout

Ingredients:

1/4 cup onion, diced
2 Trader Joe's Vegetarian Sausage Links, halved lengthwise and sliced (or chicken sausage)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced 
4 cups roughly chopped kale leaves (many stores now sell kale already chopped and ready to go!)
1/2 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup cannellini beans (or other white bean)
1/2 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Spray a medium size sauce pan with non-stick spray. Add one teaspoon of olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add diced onion and sausage. Cook until sausage begins to brown on all sides, stirring frequently.
2. Add garlic and zucchini and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
3. Add kale, beans, tomatoes, water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 15-20 minutes.
4. Serve! I like to top mine with a little parmesan cheese.

Extra kale? Make kale chips!! Savory, crispy, and totally addicting healthy substitution for potato chips. Lightly drizzle kale leaves with olive oil (I use my olive oil mister), sprinkle with sea salt, and bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes until lightly browned and crispy! Note: Make sure the leaves are dry and free of moisture for best results.

References:

Higdon JV, Delage B, Williams DE, et al. Cruciferous Vegetables and Human Cancer Risk: Epidemiologic Evidence and Mechanistic Basis. Pharmacol Res. 2007 March; 55(3): 224-236. 2007.