Rachel's Table

Eat Your (Green) Vegetables

I just picked up week three of my summer CSA from Lancaster Farm Fresh.  Let me tell you–this CSA is a weekly inspiration, and I can’t wait to share the recipes I’ve been cooking up.

So far, my kitchen has turned into an assembly line for washing, spinning, drying, and storing greens. (Here’s a handy tip for you: if you ever invest in a CSA, buy at least two salad spinners. You can wash and dry your greens and then store them right in the spinner for easy access.) I’ve used my stored spinach, kale, red leaf lettuce, butterhead lettuce, and other greens in potato salad, countless “regular” salads, in scrambles for breakfast and cooked up with pasta.

The pasta dish was an accidental thing. My niece and nephew came over one Sunday afternoon to help plant my garden. Before the work began, we ran to the grocery store to pick up a few items for lunch. As soon as we entered the grocery’s front doors, I realized I did not have my debit card with me. Thanks to the resourcefulness of my niece who saves her pennies and carries them with her, we had a grand total of $11 to spend on lunch. We trolled the store for a cheap meal and brought home a box of pasta, ice cream, and good parmesan cheese.

Combining those ingredients (minus the ice cream) with ricotta cheese, lemon, and the CSA kale I already had at home made for a delightful and kid-approved lunch.

My nephew approves

My nephew approves

{Happy CSA Day!} Kid-Approved Pasta with Ricotta and Kale

1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese (or reduced fat if that’s your thing)

3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

Juice of half a lemon

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

fresh ground black pepper

1 box bow tie pasta

1 lb kale, washed and center vein and stems removed, chopped into ribbons

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a good handful of kosher salt when boiling.

Meanwhile, stir together the ricotta, 3/4 cup of the parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl until smooth.

Once the pasta has been cooking for about 6 minutes, add the kale to the pot. Cook until the pasta is al dente and kale is bright green, a few minutes longer. (Don’t overcook the kale; it will get chewy.)

Before draining, reserve 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and kale and place in a large serving bowl.  Add 1/3 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water to the ricotta mixture, whisking until smooth. Toss the pasta with the ricotta mixture. Serve more parmesan separately.

Kid and adult approved--I loved the lemon in this pasta!

Kid and adult approved–I loved the lemon in this pasta!

This dish could be made with spinach, asparagus, or any other spring veggie you have on hand.

So tell me, what delicious meal have you created “by accident”? And have you ever had to borrow cash from your kids? (Somehow that $11 turned into $20 when I paid my niece back. Smart kid.)


  1. I think my kids would LOVE this! I’ve never cooked kale before..hm….Unfortunately I don’t cook anything by accident. My cooking ends up being an accident, but that’s another story for another time.

  2. Ellen

    My first summer CSA pickup is June 5th, and I can’t wait! Keep on posting your accidental creations. I had a winter CSA that often had kale in it. I became a HUGE fan of sausage kale soup, and a kale mandarin salad. Both so yummy! , And my twelve year old has learned to love kale, collard greens, kohlrabi, bok choi, and all sorts of veggies I never would have purchased in the store. We live a whole new food life, and are all healthier for it! Love your blog! From Middletown, DE

    • Hi Ellen! So glad you said hello. Kale and sausage soup is SO, SO good. I’m originally from Massachusetts and the Portuguese population up there know their way around a kale and sausage soup!

      I’m in love with bok choi. It’s great in veggie soup.And you’re right, these are things I never would have bought on my own. It’s fun to be creative with the veggies I get.

      Which CSA do you get? I think mine starts earlier than most because they are pulling from over 80 farmers in the Lancaster area.

    • This CSA starts earlier than most! Over 80 farmers are involved though, so it’s easier to get enough produce to fill up the CSA boxes. Can’t wait to see what you make when you finally get yours!

    • I know, right? Somehow this sweet little girl turned into a venture capitalist, talking about interest. She’s 11, for goodness’sake!

      Peppermeister owes you more than that, Jules. He should make you this pasta as one way to pay off his debts.

  3. Accidental meals? Well late one winter I was too lazy to clean the humidifier (yet AGAIN) so on one fairly brisk morning I opted for the lazy girls humidifier… I put a large pot of water on the stove to simmer.
    My husband walked by later and asked if I was making soup for lunch…. “uuummm yeah… that’s what I’m doing… making soup!”
    So I fished around in the pantry and pulled out some dehydrated potato slices, put a big scoop of soup base in the pot and a leftover piece of ham steak from the freezer, threw in some onion and pepper… 20 minutes later we called it soup.
    I was not at all about to tell him I was humidifying the house… LOL

    Of course now that I know what I know about potatoes… I don’t use those potato slices any m.ore

  4. When I grow up and get a place of my own, I’m definitely going to join a CSA. Fresh, local fruits & veggies (& some have meats) and someone else does the work for you. What’s not to love?

    • Some even have cheese and eggs! All you could ever want and you don’t have to shop for it! I do love going to my local farmers market though, and during the summer months, go there for fruit.

  5. That sounds and looks really delicious. I recently discovered a really yummy pasta dish that has some lemon in it, and I have to say that I am a fan of the lemon in creamy pasta dishes. It really brightens it up. Plus, even though I’m not a big kale fan, I can see this with some fresh spinach easy, and it would probably be good as well.

  6. Your food always looks so fresh and delicious! Do you always lightly boil kale? I’ve just tossed it in a pan to saute before and it can be tough.

    • I usually “braise” it. Meaning I throw garlic and olive oil in a huge pot. Let the garlic get golden. Throw the kale in. Pour in some vegetable stock (or water) – like 1/2 cup or 1 cup, depending on how much kale. Give it a good toss with tongs. Put a cover on it and let it cook for about 5 minutes. That way it sort of sautees and steams at the same time, making for a more tender kale.

      That was more of an explanation than you wanted, right??

      • I’ll buy a couple bunches of kale at a time and blanch for 3 minutes (boiling water or steam) then dunk in ice water and spin out in my salad spinner. Then I can pack it into pint containers – I’ll keep one or two in the fridge to use thru the week and the others go into the freezer… I always have kale available and ready to throw into the pan to cook or the blender to add to a smoothie.

  7. So many things I love in one recipe!

    Recently, I was making a creamy cauliflower sauce (“healthy alfredo”) and got distracted…I forgot to drain the cauliflower before I pulled out the immersion blender… needless to say, we ended up having soup for dinner. Oops.

    If you’re feeling adventurous you could make the ricotta-with local milk?!…So easy to make and it’s so gooood! You’ll never go back to the store-bought stuff!

    • You read my mind, Noelle! My next project is homemade ricotta! I’m so excited to try it. And one cannot go wrong with a smitten kitchen recipe. Love her!

      Cauliflower soup sounds just as good as cauliflower sauce. 🙂

  8. You know this one needs a LOVE button! And still, I’m several days late to comment? See? Even my favorite posts get bumped by my life. You had me at “plant my garden.”

    More parents should know the magic of pasta and cheese for hiding greens. So many ways to do this and no excuse not to when spring and summer varieties are cheap and abundant. Over time, once their taste buds are adjusted to sun-bites, the pasta and cheese parts can be reduced or even omitted altogether, and kids are just eating the greens — the best, cheapest, HEALTHIEST food!

    Nieces and nephews are the best kind of kids to have — get to enjoy them without the added burden of putting away for college.

    Great post, Rachel. I really miss my blog buds, but I’m still a long way from being back on regularly. I’ll pop on when I can.

    • Oh…and I see that you got Freshly Pegged. I missed it, but going over there now to put my two cents. You know I’m still mad at WP for passing up that gem of a post.

    • Shannon, I’ve missed you! Glad to see you back. I’m also catching up on blogs and have yet to watch your daughter’s video.

      So far my garden has produced radishes and beautiful butter lettuce. Still waiting on beets, carrots, and spinach. I know my garden doesn’t compare with yours – it’s only about 4 x 4 feet!

      • I have one lonely tomato and eggplant on the apartment balcony. At the house are a few tomatoes, eggplant, squash, peppers, basil, and parsley. They must do well mow without me! Grow, little babies. Mama is missing you.

        Your 4×4 is the perfect size, not at all small. If every household had JUST THAT, the domino effect of change in the way we (Americans) eat would be dramatic. Talk about putting a dent in hunger! We each do what we can — and then some.

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