Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Warm Dinner for a Snowy Night

It's not actually snowing. Technically, we just have flurries, but "warm dinner for flurries" sounded dumb. That, plus, I'm sure this would still be a perfect meal if it were snowing, which it's not.

Now that we are clear on the facts, here's what we had for dinner. You should try it, too: Kale, Lentil & Sausage Soup and the world's best breadsticks. Tasty, and very healthy, too.

Do you regularly eat kale? If not, you should start, because it's so good for you. I looked it up, and this is what I learned:

  • Kale reduces your risk of cancer, specifically cancers of the bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate.
  • Kale is key in your body's natural detoxification efforts.
  • Kale helps your body avoid chronic inflamation and oxidative stress. I'm not sure what oxidative stress is, but it sounds bad, so I'm glad to be avoiding it.
  • Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables around. It is off-the-charts high in vitamins K and A, and has nearly 90% your daily dosage of vitamin C. Pretty impressive. That, plus it is high in manganese, calcium, fiber, and iron, and some other stuff, too.
  • Kale has cholesterol lowering properties.

If you don't really care about the health benefits, that's fine, too, because you can still enjoy the soup purely from a tasty standpoint. Here's the recipie.

Kale, Lentil, and Sausage Soup (from Everyday Living)
2 tsp. olive oil
8 oz. hot italian sausage
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 medium, yellow onion, chopped
1/2 c. lentils
6 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. water
1/2 lb. kale, stems removed, leaves broken up
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Brown sausage in hot oil. Add celery and onion, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add lentils, broth, and water. Bring to a boil, then partly cover, reduce heat, and cook until lentils are tender (about 25 minutes). Add kale, and cook until it wilts, about 5 minutes. Add vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. I also like to top it with parmesean cheese...

You should try the breadsticks, too, even though they don't offer the health benefits of kale. Or of anything else, really...except they're really, really good.


Best-Ever Breadsticks (from my kitchen cafe)
1 1/2 c. warm water
1 T. yeast
2 T. sugar
3 1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
3 T. butter, melted

Mix all ingredients (except melted butter) in a large bowl or electric mixer and knead for three minutes. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread melted butter onto an 11X17-inch baking sheet. Roll out the breadstick dough about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick and cut into strips with a pizza cutter. Twist slightly if desired and place about 1/2-inch apart on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with garlic salt, herbs of choice (I vary this depending on my mood but it usually consists of rosemary, basil, or thyme in some form and crushed finely) and parmesan cheese. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes. Bake 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees until golden brown.

Enjoy!