This Winter is proving to be something of a bust here in Austin. I saw a post of a picture of a bluebonnet already blooming out on Facebook yesterday and we’re only half way through February!!
Hey I’m not complaining. I love the warm weather and I’m totally fine with having a hot Summer. That just means an extra long harvest season and more time out on the lake. What’s not to love about Texas? (I won’t mention the scorpions, diamond backs, and coral snakes in this post.)
While I may be sitting at a balmy 75 degree high on this day after Valentine’s Day, our friends in the North are suffering one of their most brutal Winters. I’ve concocted this healthy, hearty, body warming Earthy Indian Kale Casserole as a tribute to my friends above Dallas, but you will definitely enjoy this dinner no matter where you live!
Mind reading is one of my special skills, so I can hear you thinking “What’s so healthy, hearty, and warming about this casserole, anyway, Haley?” Let me tell you a little about kale. All you hipsters out there know that kale is a super food. It’s imprinted in your brain, and you were eating kale way before everyone else anyway. But do you know why it’s so super?
Kale is considered to be a nutrient dense vegetable. According to Paul Pitchford in his book Healing with Whole Foods – Oriental Traditions and Modern Nutrition, kale has a very low calorie count, but is very high in protein, fiber, and many essential vitamins and minerals, such as provitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acid in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (among other awesome stuff).
Pitchford also explains kale is a “warming” vegetable and can help combat coldness during winter months. Additionally, because kale is a leafy green vegetable it is very high in chlorophyll which can stop the spread of bacteria while promoting the growth of beneficial flora in the gut which can fight against stomach troubles as well as chest congestion.
All in all, kale is a wonderful vegetable to add to your diet at any time of the year, but especially during the winter months when it has it’s sweetest flavor following a touch of frost.
To add to the warmth of this dish I’ve included Garam Masala, an Indian spice combination known for it’s warming effects. In Hindi Garam means “hot” and Masala means “a mixture of spices.” Garam Masala can be found in the spice section of most grocery stores and contains black pepper, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, bay leaf, and cumin. While the name means “hot” you won’t find this dish to be overly spicy, but garam masala will add an earthy warmth to the meal.
I hope you enjoy and stay warm!
Earthy Indian Kale Casserole
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
- 1 Tablespoon Safflower or grapeseed oil
- 1 Pound Lean ground beef
- 1/2 Teaspoon Paprika
- 1/4 Teaspoon Onion powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 Teaspoon Black pepper, divided
- 1 Sweet potato (about 1 lb), peeled and diced in 1 inch cubes
- 1 Butternut Squash (about 10 oz), peeled and diced in 1 inch cubes
- 1 Cup beef stock
- 1 Cup coconut milk
- 1/2 Teaspoon Garam masala
- 2 Tablespoons Corn starch
- 1/2 Cup mozzarella cheese, grated
- 1 Bunch of Tuscan kale (about 3-4 cups chopped), ribs removed and chopped into 2 inch pieces
- Preheat oven to 350. Heat safflower oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the ground beef in the skilled on all sides and season with paprika, onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Remove the beef from the skillet and set aside in a large mixing bowl.
- Saute the sweet potato and squash over medium-high heat in the same skillet tossing or stirring occasionally. Allow the vegetables to take on some brown color. Cook for about 3 minutes and move to the mixing bowl with the beef.
- Meanwhile, whisk the beef stock, coconut milk, and garam masala together in a medium sized pot over medium heat for about 5 minutes. In a small bowl whisk 2 tablespoons of the beef stock mixture with the corn starch to create a slurry. Add this slurry back to the pot with the beef stock mixture and turn the heat up to medium-high. Bring to a simmer whisking occasionally. Simmer about 2 minutes then turn the heat off and add mozzarella cheese stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula continuously until melted. Add this sauce, the chopped kale, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt and black pepper to the beef and vegetable mixture and stir to combine.
- Move the mixture to a 9X13 casserole dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes or until sweet potato is fork tender and juices are bubbly. Serve over jasmine rice cooked in coconut milk.
Note: This is a Gluten Free recipe!
Note: To make this meal vegetarian simply remove the ground beef and substitute vegetable stock for the beef stock.