Baked Orzo with Red Sauce & Kale


Kale is hip these days, but let’s face it, it’s not always awesome to eat.  I’ve heard it described as like eating a tree. Chef Kirk (my husband) is really good at eating his veggies, and he hates kale.  I think I’ve cracked the kale code, however. I can make kale pleasant to eat. This pasta dish is packed with veggies and delicious.  It feels like a real treat, because pasta makes few appearances on this diet.  Chef Kirk (the kale hater) loves it.

First, you have to make red sauce.  This is a scaled down version of Fiore’s Red Sauce. Cook the garlic, slowly in the oil and salt in a large sauce pan or dutch oven.


Add the tomatoes and water.


Simmer the sauce, reducing, until thick, about 35-40 minutes.


Small dice your onions, carrots, and celery.


Heat a large saucepan over medium to medium high heat.  Spray with olive oil pan spray. Place vegetables in pan, add 1 tsp kosher salt and 1 tsp pepper, and cook until translucent and starting to brown.


While the vegetables are cooking, prep the kale.  Ah, yes, the tree. Be sure to wash the tree before you cook it.  It can be sandy.  One of the first things you learn in culinary school is how to  wash greens.  Fill up your sink or a large bowl with water.  You need a lot of water.  Place the greens in the water and swish them around a bit.  Let them sit in the water for about 5 minutes to let the sand settle to the bottom of your sink or bowl.  Remove greens from water and place on a clean kitchen towel to drain.


Bring a large pot of water to the boil on the stove.  Add about 1/4 cup kosher salt.  Drop the kale into the boiling water.  I usually leave the stalks in tact, which makes it easier to get them in and out of the water. Cook kale in simmering water for about 4 minutes.


Remove kale from the water with tongs and place it back on the kitchen towel to drain.  Keep the hot water going to cook the orzo later.


Once it is cool enough to handle, remove the kale leaves from their stalks, and squeeze the excess water out.


Rolling the kale into a tight ball, chop into small pieces.


Now would be a good time to preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Add the kale to the saucepan with the vegetables.


You might need to add a ladle or two of the hot water to free up the vegetables. Cook, stirring often for two or three minutes, until all of the water is evaporated.


Now would be a good time to start cooking the orzo.


When you cook pasta, be sure to use lots of water and plenty of salt.


Add the vegetables to the pot with the red sauce. Stir well.


Add the cooked pasta to the pot. Stir well.


Add the cottage cheese and the rest of the salt. Stir well.


Pour the pasta mix into a 13 x 9 baking pan. Top with the mozzarella.


Bake pasta until hot and brown on top. Cut into eight portions and serve.


Only 305 calories/portion!



1/8 cup chopped garlic

1 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil

6 tsps kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 28-ounce can strained tomatoes

1 cup water

1 large yellow onion, small dice

3 stalks celery, small dice

4 small carrots, peeled and diced small

1 bunch kale, washed

1 pound whole wheat orzo

1 cup lowfat cottage cheese

1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella


1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil.  Add about 1/4 cup kosher salt.

2. Make the sauce.  Heat a large dutch oven or saucepan over low heat.  Add the oil, then garlic and 2 tsps kosher salt.

3.  Cook the garlic, very slowly, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Do not brown.

4.  Add tomatoes and water.  Stir and bring to a simmer.

5.  Simmer the sauce and reduce until thickened, about 35-40 minutes. Set Aside.

6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Spray with olive oil pan spray.  Add onion, carrot, celery, 1 tsp kosher salt, and 1 tsp black pepper.

7.  Cook vegetables, stirring often, until translucent and beginning to brown. While the vegetables are cooking, prep the kale.

8. Place kale in boiling water for about 4 minutes.  Remove with tongs and place on a clean kitchen towel to drain. Keep the boiling water for cooking the orzo. Once kale is cool enough to handle, remove leaves from stalks, and squeeze out excess water.

9. Gather cooked kale leaves in a tight ball and chop fine.  Add kale to the skillet with the vegetables.  Add a ladle of the pasta water and stir well. Cook until water is evaporated.

10.  Add vegetable mixture to the pot containing the red sauce. Stir well.

11. Cook orzo until al dente, 10-12 minutes. Drain.

12.  Add pasta to the pot with the sauce and vegetables.

13. Add the cottage cheese and the rest of the kosher salt. Stir well.

14. Pour pasta mixture into a 13 x 9 baking pan.  Top with mozzarella.

15. Bake until hot and browned on top, about 15-20 minutes.

16. Cut into eight portions.  305 calories/portion.

3 thoughts on “Baked Orzo with Red Sauce & Kale

  1. Eric Howe

    looks pretty tasty!  I’ve really gotten back into the supergrains again, and superseeds.  What do you think about mixing in quinoa with the orzo, say, 50-50? and some ground flax seed on top with the mozzarella?  


    1. kfskinnychef

      Yes! The sky’s the limit! You could use all quinoa. Most grains contain around 200 calories/cup. Flax seeds are really good for you, but be careful, they contain a lot of calories.

  2. Pingback: Lasagne! | Chef Katie Cooks

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