Creamy Kale and Pasta Bake Recipe

- Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez, Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas; Food Styling: Torie Cox
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez, Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas; Food Styling: Torie Cox

This comforting, cheesy baked pasta will convince kids and the most kale-averse adults to fall in love this leafy green. This easy to make casserole is a complete main dish in one pan, but you can also serve it as a hearty side dish alongside roasted chicken, pork chops, or any protein. Best of all, the dish comes together in 30 minutes or less. Buy pre-chopped, pre-washed bagged kale and pre-shredded cheese to save prep time.

Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Yields: Serves 6


4 quarts water

1/4 cup plus 1 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt, divided

1 (16-oz.) package chopped fresh kale

4 cups whole milk

6 tablespoons cold salted butter, cut into pieces

1 cup chopped yellow onion (from 1 onion)

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 (8-oz.) package preshredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 2 cups)

1 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

8 ounces uncooked medium-size shell pasta, cooked according to package directions

1/2 cup panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs)

1 tablespoon olive oil

How to Make It

Preheat broiler with oven rack 8 to 9 inches from heat. Bring 4 quarts water and 1/4 cup of the salt to a boil in a Dutch oven over high. Add chopped kale; cook until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Cool 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place milk in a 1-quart glass measuring cup. Cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on HIGH 3 minutes.

Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium. Add onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 6 minutes. Add flour, and cook, whisking constantly, 2 minutes. Whisk in hot milk. Increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a low boil, whisking often. Cook, whisking often, until thickened, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in cheese, hot sauce, pepper, and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Roughly chop kale. Fold kale and cooked pasta into cheese sauce. Pour into a greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish.

Stir together panko and 1 tablespoon olive oil; sprinkle over pasta mixture. Broil until panko is golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.


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