Saturday, February 6, 2010

Spaghetti with Bechamel Kale Sauce and Sweet Potato Balls

I was following a recipe when I began this one, after making the sweet potato kale mash I was a little unimpressed.
Knowing it should and could be better, I postponed this dinner until the next night after feeling a bit let down by the kale sweet potato mash I'd made. The original recipe was vegan. My version is still vegetarian, but with the added ricotta, Parmesan, a bit of egg, balsamic and nutmeg the balls were really super tasty. The original recipe served the balls with a tomato based pasta sauce. Well, I went to the trouble of making a fresh tomato sauce, but it just didn't feel right.
Popped that in the freezer and decided to go with an easy bechamel instead. Tossed in a whole bunch of braised kale and it was a stellar meal.

Now when I made this, I cooked the onions and kale for the balls separately from the onions and kale that went in the sauce. No reason to do if you're making the whole meal just go ahead and cook the full amount of kale and onions together, then divide between the balls and sauce.

One more quick note...
If the Monster wasn't so opposed to pecans, I'd have included some chopped toasted pecan pieces in the balls for added texture.

Sweet Potato Kale Balls:
2 medium sweet potatoes, washed well and diced (If the skin is nice, don't bother peeling them)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
~6 leaves of kale, chopped into small pieces
~1 tsp+ balsamic vinegar
~1/4 cup Parmesan Reggiano crumbles (I tossed a chunk of Parm into the food processor to make small crumbles)
~1/3-1/2 a tub of part-skim ricotta cheese
I also added about 1/2 an egg...will need to make this again and will update exact amounts!
kosher salt
whole wheat bread crumbs
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400.
On a sheet pan, drizzle sweet potato pieces with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat then roast for about 20-30 minutes, or until soft when poked with a fork. Remove from heat and set aside.

While potatoes are roasting, saute onions in about 2 tsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and after about 5 minutes of cooking, reduce the heat to low. Stir about every 3 minutes until evenly browned.
Bring heat back to medium and add in minced garlic.
Cook garlic for ~1 minute, then add in kale, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Saute until kale has cooked down a bit, then add a touch of veggie broth or water, reduce heat and cover. Cook for ~4 minutes or until kale is tender. Finish with balsamic vinegar. Remove from heat.

In a bowl, mash sweet potato pieces then add in kale and onion mixture.
Let it cool, before adding in part of an egg, ricotta, and Parm.
Add salt, pepper, and a touch of fresh ground nutmeg to taste.
Roll mixture into 1 inch balls, then roll them in bread crumbs.
Place on and olive oiled baking sheet (I spritzed the balls with a bit of canola cooking spray on tops) and bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping them over after 15 minutes.
Let cool a bit, then serve.

Spaghetti with Kale and Bechamel:
Brown rice spaghetti or whatever spaghetti you like (Tinkyada makes excellent brown rice noods)
1 bunch of kale; destemmed, chopped small
~1/2 med. onion, chopped
red pepper flakes
1 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or any other milk you'd like to use)
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs whole spelt flour (or other flour you'd like to use)
garlic powder
fresh ground nutmeg
~2 Tbs grated Parm if you'd like

Cook spaghetti...and while it's boilling:

Heat ~1 Tbs olive oil a large skillet or Dutch oven over med-high heat.
Saute onion for about 5 minutes.
Add kale, a pinch of salt and toss to coat, cook down for about 1-2 minutes.
Add ~1/3 cup veggie broth, cover and reduce heat to low.
Braise for ~7+ minutes, or until tender.
Add a touch of balsamic and anything else you feel it needs...more salt, some pepper (black and or red pepper flakes).
Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat milk in a glass measuring cup in microwave until steaming, but not boiling (take care not to scald it.
In a sauce pan, heat butter til foamy over med. heat.
Add flour and stir, cooking for several minutes.
Slowly add in heated milk, whisking all the while.
Cook over med. low heat until thickened.
Add in spices to your taste. Stir in Parm if using.
Stir in kale and onion mixture and cooked spaghetti noodles, tossing to coat.

If you've made the sweet potato kale balls too, serve with them on top of the sketti.
Wow...kind of seemed like a lot of work, but it was worth it! I'm sure this will go faster the next time. Now that I know what I'm doing! :-)


Jes said...

They sound great with the bechamel sauce! And Parmesan does make everything just a little more tasty. :)

Erndog said...

I loved the idea of the sweet potato and kale Jes. Thanks for the great starting point! :-) Love your newly discovered blog too!

Miranda Rommel said...

How in heaven's name do you add HALF an egg!?
This sounds awesome, i might just have to try those balls out some time.

Erndog said...

The old reliable eyeball method. :-)
I didn't want to add too much for fear the mix would be too soupy to roll into balls. They really were delicious...worth the effort!