Cheesy Kale and Orzo

May 22, 2012

At nearly the age of four, our daughter sat in disbelief  in front of a bowl of mac and cheese served by a friend of ours.  “But it’s not green?”  She couldn’t fit the bowl of creamy goodness into her limited epicurean understanding of the world, mostly because her mother had apparently spent her ultra-formative years fooling her into thinking that all mac and cheese had pureed spinach or kale as an integral part.  But before you jump to conclusions and label me a crazy mom who withholds hard-earned icons of American childhood (probably no hot dogs or Oreos either!), consider that the addition of these rich greens actually makes the dish taste better (and triples the nutritional value of course)!  And not just to adults either, our kids prefer this as well.  Just look at the happy girl then and now! (But you are right about the Oreos, we have held back on those.  Perhaps you know of a fantastic recipe to make them at home and would like to share a link below!)

Cheesy Kale and Orzo is the next generation of mac and cheese at our dinner table.  It satisfies our kids’ desire for cheesy pasta, yet holds its own as a more sophisticated side for grilled salmon (our protein of choice these days).  The orzo cooks in the fashion of a risotto, so it has a chance to soak up the white wine and rich chicken broth.  Kale, steamed and blended fine, mixes in and colors the dish a deep green. Fresh cut chives and Parmesan add a bit more flavor and creaminess at the end.

Cheesy Kale and Orzo

serves 4 as a side dish

1 bunch kale, cut into 1 inch wide strips, discard tough stems

1 1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup minced shallots

8 ounces orzo

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 cups warm chicken broth

2 tablespoons minced chives

salt to taste

fresh ground pepper, to taste

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring water to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan.  Add the kale, cover, and simmer until kale is tender, 3-4 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to scoop kale into a blender.  Measure 1 cup of the steaming liquid and add to the kale (discard the rest of the liquid). Let cool slightly, then puree kale in its cooking liquid.  (Blending super hot water can lead to a hot eruption of liquid from your blender and a burned arm- trust me)

Melt butter over medium heat in a medium-sized saucepan.  Add the shallots and cook until translucent.  Add the orzo and cook while stirring until the orzo begins to brown.  Add the wine and stir until the orzo absorbs most of it.  Add the chicken broth, 1/2 cup at a time.  Between each addition, stir and simmer until the liquid absorbs into the orzo.  Add the pureed kale with its liquid.  Stir until absorbed.  Add chives.  Add salt and pepper to taste. (I used 1 teaspoon of salt, but that was with a no-salt homemade broth.  If you use a salted broth, you will need to add less salt.)  Stir in the Parmesan cheese.  Serve warm.

Print this recipe: Cheesy Kale and Orzo

You may also like:

Penne with Kale, Feta, and Olives

Sausage and Kale Dinner Tart

Green and Brown (eat your veggies!) Spaghetti

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13 Responses to “Cheesy Kale and Orzo”

  1. lizthechef Says:

    Terrific idea – I know my husband will eat this. He needs lessons from your daughter ;)

  2. Janice Says:

    The proof of success is in the happy grins! I noticed that at age four the grin is not green. Good work little Miss.

  3. enjoywithjoy Says:

    Love the smiles, just to show it was well worth it. Love kale and orzo definitely I have to try this!

  4. Hannah Says:

    Cheesy kale? Yes, please! This sounds divine – I agree the addition of greens makes it even yummier.

    If you’d like to make Oreos, Joanne Chang has a terrific recipe I’ve made: http://articles.boston.com/2009-07-08/lifestyle/29266603_1_baking-parchment-paper-dough
    I baked them for our Food Bloggers Bake Sale and they were a hit. Needless to say, my boys inhaled them.


  5. Perfect! I really like this take on Mac and Cheese, and I know I’d prefer your version with the kale!

  6. Kim Says:

    Adorable pics and the dish sounds delish! Great ideas.
    -ka

  7. Eileen Says:

    Ha! I put greens in nearly all the mac and cheese I make too, but since we don’t need to fool any kids, I usually leave them just roughly chopped. Definitely a great combination! I like that white wine addition too. :)

  8. Ms. T Says:

    This looks delicious and I love the story and adorable photos! BTW there’s a great recipe for oreos on Smitten Kitchen. I’ve made them and they’re great. Not healthy, but delicious :)
    http://smittenkitchen.com/2007/05/my-kingdom-for-a-glass-of-milk/

  9. Janice Juul Says:

    I’m reading this again in 2016! Your stories capture such a wonderful slice of family life.


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