Tuesday, October 30, 2012

baked rigatoni with kale

Tuesday, October 30, 2012
As I was hastily preparing this dish a few nights ago, after a short-lived crisis wherein I realized I did not, after all, have a full pound of kale, I wondered why I had never written about it before.  I've made it loads of times, each one with results as satisfying as the first.  On that occasion, the first mouthful of the toothsome, hearty whole-grain pasta coated with creamy, cheesy sauce and interspersed with dark green kale was so supremely comforting and good that I swore I would never return to plain old mac n' cheese.  Why should I, when the insertion of that most celebrated and trendy veg made it a transcendent experience?

Despite my best intentions, it was quite some time before I was really back in the swing of things in the kitchen, post-baby.  It's hard at the beginning, of course, for all the expected reasons: you're exhausted, baby's schedule (and thus, your schedule) is completely unpredictable...one minute you're swearing that you'll nap after the tenth feeding of the day and the next you are eating your words because you can't help but stare in amazement at your precious sleeping bundle.  For me, there was a brief window of time when the stretches of sleep became a bit longer in the evenings, and instead of taking turns with the baby, my SH and I were actually able to sit down at the table collapse on the couch in front of the television with plates of food I successfully prepared myself.  Those meals were simple at first, but eventually I made things with a few more steps, a bit more prep work, and perhaps enhanced by a flavorful herb or two.

With the advent of solid foods, cooking dinner became more challenging once again.  I didn't have quite as much time to prepare, both because the wakeful periods during the day were very long and though my beloved little A settled into a decent nap routine, he almost inevitably woke up in the middle of each nap and required a bit of soothing back down AND because I made almost all of his food.  Aside:  I found this to actually be easier (and cheaper!) than storebought food, and incidentally, every thing I made actually tasted like what it was supposed to be, which was not my experience every time I tried a jar of baby food.  I could write a whole additional post on my homemade baby food experience-perhaps you'll see it in a few years?

Anyway, to get back to the main reason I'm writing, the amazing baked rigatoni with kale, I positively have to share the joyous time when baby can finally EAT WHAT WE ARE EATING.  After months of double duty dinners, preparing mashes and purees alongside standby soups and pots of beans and rice, it was a welcome relief to gradually begin making baby A his own little plate to match ours.  It was exciting, because it represented his healthy growth and development, and every time he ate a morsel of chicken breast or slurped bolognese sauce off a chunky piece of rigatoni I was thrilled, and not a little proud.  It's also equally convicting and inspiring: I am much more conscientious about what we eat, because I know that A is going to be eating it with us.

I was cautious with those first few table food dishes-I wanted them to be tasty, but also manageable.  This particular blend of hearty green and pasta was a great dish to meet our needs.  The sauce isn't heavy, the cheese is just right (and I need a lot of that, since baby A has yet to fall in love with whole milk), and the bigger pasta is the perfect finger food.  We have made it many times, with kale and also with a substitute of spinach.  It's never let me down.

I found the recipe on a particularly beautiful blog, The Kitchen Sink Recipes.  Blogger Kristin hails from Chicago, takes incredible photos, and writes warmly of food and family.  She recently had a baby girl, and this particular post, eat as three, is what inspired me not only to document the dish I have grown to love so much, but also to write a bit about my own little family eating as three.

1 comment:

J&Co. said...

Lover would love this. We/he gets mac-n-cheese everywhere we dine.