Tortellini with Tuscan Kale & Chicken (serves 4-6) If You Want Something Fast That’s Not Fast Food; This Is It!

This is the ultimate delicious solution when it comes to getting a dinner on the table in a hurry or if you are too exhausted (or lazy) to actually cook. I am as proud of myself when I magically making a fabulous dinner in about 12 minutes as I am when I spend time laboriously making something like ossabuco or stuffing and rolling a turkey breast and serving it with gravy and roasted vegetables. In fact after making this dish the other night I wonder why I bother at all for this pleased me just as well!


A Very Fast and Delicious Dinner: tortellini with kale and chicken

That said, it took years me years to learn how to plan for nights like the one just past, a night when the window of opportunity to cook, eat and get ready to go onto the next thing was about 50 minutes. I absolutely hate the feeling of being so on the go that I have to literally shove crap into my mouth and into the mouths of my children before rushing out the door. That is not living and I don’t even want to start on about how that’s what our world has come to, where the last thing you think about is your body and putting some good decent food into it!

Tuscan Kale

Tuscan Kale, also called Lacinato Kale (pretentious and not a word used in Italy for Kale at all!) and Dinosaur Kale (this hardy green keeps for a week in the fridge!)

I have never considered myself a heath nut, paranoid about every last calorie or if the thing is organic or hormone-free. In the grand scheme of things I figure if you eat food that looks like what it is; meats, veggies, grains etc then you are generally going to be on the right track and doing a fair job at feeding you and your family. When you get into buying things that come in boxes with instructions I am only a fan in dire emergencies or if I’m in a situation where the only thing available to me is hot water and a microwave or one fuel burner. It amazes me to see the whole meals you can buy in a carton these days and this new wave of products are being sold in Health Food Stores. Basically they are selling you the promise of a home cooked meal when I say you can probably get something together just as quickly if you are super smart like me (yes, I am of course joking – no really)

The Ultimate Cheese!
The Ultimate Cheese: Parmigiano Reggiano (it is expensive but a little packs a ton of flavor)
My idea of fast food is something like this dinner. Here is what I ALWAYS have in my kitchen: olive oil, garlic, frozen or dry pasta, greens that last in the fridge and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. There is a bigger list of course but the other night when I was short on time and didn’t want to order expensive junkie takeout these things came in handy, along with some leftover cooked chicken. The pasta could be cooked from frozen while the kale cooked in a little broth and seasoning and then the chicken tossed in last-minute to reheat. It was divine and was put together so quickly that we all actually had time to sit down and enjoy it!

You will need:

2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

4 to 5 cups cooked chicken – chopped into big bite-sized pieces (you can take the meat off the bone of a small rotisserie or other kind of cooked chicken, or if you have some 3 or so chicken breasts cooked or any leftover chicken you have)

5 or so cups of chopped Tuscan or other type of kale

2 garlic cloves – finely chopped

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (optional)

1 (or more) cups chicken broth (or good quality bouillon cube and water)

2lbs frozen tortellini (any kind you like – plain, with different cheeses, veggie like spinach – I found a great goat cheese stuffed tortellini that worked great with the robusty kale – yes, Robusty!)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups or so of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (you really need to get the good stuff for this)


*prep everything before you start (chop garlic, chicken and kale) and put big pot of water on for the tortellini. The tortellini can be cooked directly from frozen. follow packet instructions OR, when water comes to a boil add the tortellini and cook at a gently boil for about 4 minute. Drain and set aside. Do not rinse.

1 – Put big pan on low/medium heat and add the oil. When it warms add the garlic and chili flakes (if using) and swirl into the oil. Cook for about 30 seconds before adding the kale.

Saute garlic

Saute garlic

2 – Cook for about 2 minutes in the oil and then add the broth (about 1 cup). Turn heat up and let everything come to a boil. Turn heat down, cover and simmer for about 8 minutes. You may need or want to add another 1/3 to 1/2 cup of broth as it cooks.

Add kale and a little broth

Add kale and a little broth

3 – Season with some salt and pepper and taste. Add the cooked chicken and tortellini and stir. Let everything warm up. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary (more pepper flakes, black pepper and salt)

Add cooked tortillini and cooked chicken

Add cooked tortellini and cooked chicken

Serve in warmed bowls or plates and top with  good grating of Parmigiano cheese!

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