Friday, October 29, 2010

Kale Chips and Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Fall has finally arrived in Raleigh. We might literally have frost on the pumpkin tonight, and the leaves are close to peak color, but that's not what confirmed it for me.

No, I know it's officially fall because earlier tonight, in a fit of energy efficiency, I decided the time had come to close all the storm windows. And, as happens every year, I forgot how heavy they are and how easy it is to trap a finger in the track. Yup, I did it again.

Needless to say, the timing was perfet for a comfort food dinner. I've been wanting to try BrokeAss Gourmet's browned-butter pumpkin mac and cheese with white cheddar. I've also wanted to try to recreate the kale chips served at The Market, one of our new favorite restaurants downtown. Both were accomplished after a quick stop a Bickett Market, where I snagged a bag of tender organic Serbian Kale and fresh-cut local broccoli.

I'd heard kale chips are simple to prepare, but now that I've made them I'll never pay for an appetizer plate again. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and lightly coat a jelly roll pan with vegetable spray. Strip leafy greens from the tough rib and tear into chunks. Arrange on pan with minimal overlap. Using a Misto sprayer (or similar), coat generously with a sheen of truffle oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake about 10-15 minutes or until light and crispy; keep an eye on this because they can turn into dust if you lost track of time. The Market serves theirs with a side of their delicious housemade ketchup. Instead, I warmed a bonus cup of marinara that came with a takeout calzone. Given how quickly it disappeared, I'd call it a success.

Gabi Moskowitz's BrokeAss Gourmet is one of my favorite sites for creative, frugal fare. This recipe generated considerable positive feedback, and it sounded like the perfect pre-Halloween dinner. Expecting it to be a hit, I made made a double batch and added a few extras: a small head of broccoli, chunked and roasted; a dusting of panko, lightly coated with oil spray (a step I'll skip next time); and a big handful of raw pepitas.

The pumpkin sauce was rich and creamy, though perhaps a bit light on oozy cheese appeal -- our fault, not the recipe, as it appeared that someone found my hidden chunk of cheese and nibbled. The roasted broccoli was a hit and the pepitas added color and a tasty crunch. So good, in fact, that my finger doesn't even hurt anymore.

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