Enchilada Casserole with Kale and Sweet Potatoes

Enchilada Casserole with Kale and Sweet Potatoes

Remember when kale was only used as a garnish with an orange slice on your favorite plated food? Or even used to decorate a salad bar? Kale has come a long was in the whole foods movement.

Facts About Kale

During the Middle Ages, kale was one of the most common green vegetables in Europe, as it was easy to farm.

During World War II, the farming of kale in England was encouraged by the Dig for Victory campaign. The leafy green vegetable was easy to grow and provided important nutrients to supplement those missing from a normal diet because of rationing (DailyMail).

The author of Taylor’s Guide to Heirloom Vegetables, Benjamin Watso writes that Kale and collard greens freezes well and tastes sweeter and more flavorful after being exposed to a frost.

Two servings a week of kale or any of its cruciferous vegetable cousins can help prevent cancer. 

The Classification and Colors of Kale

Kale is classified by its leaf type:

  • Curly-leaved (Scots Kale – Blue Curled Kale)
  • Plain-leaved
  • Rape kale
  • Leaf and spear (a cross between curly-leaved and plain-leaved kale)
  • Cavolo nero (also known as black cabbage, Tuscan Cabbage, Tuscan Kale, Lacinato and dinosaur kale)

The different colors of kale can range from green, light green, dark green, and violet-green to violet-brown.

If all of this has your saliva moving, then let’s move on to our featured recipe: Enchilada Casserole with Kale and Sweet Potatoes, and here is what you will need.

1 large sweet potato, grated (making about 2 cups)
1 small onion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1 bag Fresh Baby Kale Mix
1 – 14.5-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 – 14.5-ounce can tomato sauce, no salt added
1/4 cup chipotle salsa
1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (for a vegan dish use tofu or nutritional yeast)
4 corn tortillas cut into strips

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Coat a 13 X 9-inch baking dish with butter or coconut oil (for a vegan or vegetarian dish)

Evenly spread the grated sweet potato in the baking dish, then layer the onion. Next sprinkle with the cumin seed, then layer on the kale and black beans (you can opt for adding 3/4th pound of cooked ground beef or chicken at this point).

Pour the tomato sauce over the dish, along with the chipotle salsa. Sprinkle with cheese, then spread the tortilla strips on top.

Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Let cool about 5 minutes. Plate and serve.

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Excite Your Palate with Spice Roasted Vegetables

Excite Your Palate with Spice Roasted Vegetables

Spicing up vegetables is a sure way to add flavor and taste, even for those who are picky about eating them. Roasting the vegetables with spices caramelizes the seasoning while sealing in the flavor.

The spice enzymes and chemicals will be absorbed into the vegetable during roasting. Finding the right spice and roasting style will make everyone want seconds.

To evenly coat the vegetables with a dry spice mix is best to mix in a little olive oil or if you wish to use a neutral flavored oil avocado oil could be used. The best way to do this is add the oil and spices to the bottle of the mixing bowl first, then add the vegetables and mix.

Here are some ideas of what vegetables and spices to roast together.

Moroccan Style Spice Rub

This spice mix will give vegetables a Moroccan blast of flavor. This warm to the palate spice mix pairs especially well with sweeter or starchy vegetables such as butternut squash, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes and sweet potatoes.

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

1/2 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. sweet paprika, preferably Hungarian

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground allspice

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/8 tsp. cayenne

A pinch of ground clove

In a small mason jar, mix all 10 spices.

To a large bowl add 1 teaspoon of the spice mix and 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add diced or chopped vegetables, and mix well.

Rosemary Thyme Lemon Oil

Mix this infused oil with your vegetables before roasting to give them extra flavor. It’s a delectable complement to roasted beet, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots and cauliflower.

Zest of 1 large lemon, removed in long strips with a vegetable peeler

2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed

1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

Over medium-low heat in a small saucepan, combine the lemon zest and oil. Cook until the lemon zest bubbles steadily for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let cool, about 3 minutes. Stir in the herbs and let sit 20 minutes more before using. This allows for flavors to infuse.

Chop or dice the vegetables, add Rosemary Thyme Lemon Oil to large bowl, add vegetables and mix to coat well.

Ginger Lemon Soy Infusion

Give roasted vegetables an Asian flavor by mixing them up with this savory infusion. Try roasting it with: broccoli, beets, carrots and cauliflower.

1-inch piece fresh ginger

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

½ tsp. soy sauce

Set a small fine strainer in a small bowl. Peel and finely grate the ginger. Put the grated ginger in the strainer and extract the ginger juice by pressing the ginger in the sieve with the back of a small spoon.

Transfer ½ teaspoon of ginger juice to another small bowl and discard the rest or save for another use. Stir in the lemon juice and soy sauce. Toss with a batch of vegetables after roasting.

With this spice mix so the flavor is not robbed by the strong flavor of olive oil, roast your vegetables with avocado oil, which has a neutral flavor.

Garlic and Coriander Oil

This tasteful, spiced oil is made to be tossed with roasted vegetables as soon as they come out of the oven. It tosses well with: roasted asparagus, roasted beets, broccoli, cauliflower or green beans.

Have this infused flavored oil ready as soon as the roasted vegetables are out of the oven.

1-1/2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp. finely chopped garlic (2 large cloves)

2 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper

Set a small saucepan over medium-low heat, with combined olive oil and garlic. Cook until the smaller pieces of garlic turn light golden-brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the coriander and cook for about 20 seconds. Immediately remove from the heat and transfer to a small heatproof bowl to prevent overcooking. Keep warm.

Sprinkle the roasted vegetables with the lemon juice, season to taste with salt and pepper, and arrange on a serving platter. Spoon the toasted garlic oil over the vegetables.

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Citrus Herb Roasted Vegetables

Citrus Herb Roasted Vegetables

This recipe focuses on the roasted vegetables as a side dish. We did use skinless chicken thighs (bone-in) as this is my families favorite part of the chicken. Though I do prefer, de-boned, skinless chicken breast.

You can roast these vegetables with about any meat you wish, including fish like Salmon or Halibut. The blend of seasonings that we used are common culinary herbs with the zest of citrus fruits, orange and lemon. This seasoning blend is well suited for many uses in the kitchen, like adding spice to a fruit salad, or add it to a grain, such as quinoa. For lean meats, you can use the citrus herb seasoning as a dry rub before grilling.

The seasoning consists of  the following:

1 tbsp. dried thyme

1 tbsp. dried oregano

2 tbsp. dried basil

1 tsp. dried rosemary

1 tsp. dried sage

1 tsp. fennel seeds

Mix the ingredients together in a spice grinder and store the blend in an airtight container.

The fresh ingredients you add to the seasoning when ready to use are:

1 1/2 tsp. fresh orange zest

1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon zest

Here are the vegetables you will need, but keep in mind, you can use just about any vegetable you like:

vegetables neede for Citrus Herb Roasted Vegetables

Here we are using 2 zucchini squash, 2 crookneck squash, 2 carrots, about 15 Brussels sprouts, and 1 small to medium eggplant. Note if you are going to bake some chicken or fish with the vegetables, you may not use the amount that is called for, due to spacing in the baking pan.

pouring season mix into baking pan

In a mixing cup add the zest of both citrus fruits, and 1 to 2 tablespoons of the herb seasoning mix. You may want to add about 1 teaspoon of sea salt. To the dry mix add 1/4 cup olive oil or avocado oil, 2 tablespoons of honey or 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, and 1/4 cup orange juice. We used the juice of a fresh Navel orange. Of course it juiced almost 1 cup. One fourth cup was added to the mix, and the cook got their dose of vitamin-C (he drank the rest). This is optional, add 1 minced fresh clove of garlic.

Mix the dry ingredients with the wet till well combined and pour into a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Now if you don’t like meat, than maybe you will want to look away as we show you the next step.

putting chicken thighs over seasoning face down

Next, depending the meat you want to use, place meat into pan. Here we used skinless chicken thighs, placed bone side up. If using fish with skin on, place fish in with meat down.  Bake in a preheated oven on 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Placing chopped vegetables into baking pan to roast

Remove pan from oven and turn thighs over and arrange chopped vegetables over and around meat. If you are going to just use the vegetables only, than pour wet seasoning mix into baking pan, add vegetables and roast for 30 minutes in the 400 degree oven.

Place baking pan back into oven and cook another 30 minutes. This will insure chicken meat is cooked to 165 degrees internal temperature and will roast the vegetables.

Citrus Herb Roasted Vegetables

Remove roasted vegetables to a serving dish, then place meat on to a serving platter. Pour or spoon as much of the seasoned liquid as you like over the roasted vegetables.

Citrus Herb Roasted Vegetables with Baked Chicken Thighs

Plate and serve.

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