Foodie Friday Artichoke-Kale Pasta Casserole
Combine a love of artichokes and the mileage of a good casserole and you've got a nice dinner that warms up well, too.
Artichoke/Kale Pasta Casserole (prep. Time 20 minutes plus 30 minutes bake time. Serves 6-8)
2 C. Rigatoni (about half a box)
2 cans quartered artichoke hearts in brine, drained
4 cloves garlic-rough chop
½ onion, sliced (preferred: a sweet onion like Vidalia)
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 Tb. olive oil
2 Tb. flour
1 1/2 C. vegetable stock
2 c. chopped Mediterranean kale (about a half bag prepared and washed)
1 C. ricotta cheese
½ C. shredded Asiago cheese
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt, ground black pepper to taste.
½ C. panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 375. Prepare pasta per package instructions. Since the pasta will absorb the liquid in the casserole, it’s okay to cook it a little past al-dente to keep it from sucking up the sauce, making the final dish too dry. While the pasta is cooking, bring ½ cup of vegetable stock to a simmer in a large saute pan and wilt the kale in the liquid. Cook the greens until the tough stems are knife-tender (they will still retain some “bite” even in the baked casserole. Once tender, set the kale aside and heat the olive oil in the saute pan. Add the onions and cook on medium-high until translucent. Add garlic and oregano and saute for about another minute before stirring in the flour. Stir and cook the flour and oil roux for about another 2 minutes over medium low until flour starts to turn a little golden but be careful not to brown or burn the garlic. Slowly stir in the vegetable stock and simmer to thicken. Stir in artichoke quarters, salt, pepper and pepper flakes. Reduce heat to low and stir in ricotta cheese. Add the kale and Asiago cheese. Stir to melt the cheese and coat the kale and artichoke quarters. Spray a 9” baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Drain the cooked pasta well and pour it into the baking pan. Pour the artichoke/kale mixture on top and gently toss to coat. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top. You can spray the top with cooking spray or dot with butter to help it brown and crisp.
Cover and bake about 20 minutes, turning halfway through. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes until the casserole is bubbling throughout and the top is golden brown.
Serve with tossed salad and warm Italian bread.