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Pasta With Leeks and Greens
3 medium leeks, white and light-green parts
Kosher salt
8 ounces dried whole-wheat or multigrain spiral pasta
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds mixed greens, such as chard, arugula, spinach and beet greens, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish (optional)
Cut the leeks crosswise into thin rounds and place in a bowl of cool water; swish around and let sit for a few minutes so the grit dislodged from the leek layers settles to the bottom of the bowl. Drain without reintroducing any grit into the leeks.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt, then the pasta. Cook according to the package directions.
Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until the oil shimmers. Add the leeks and stir to coat; cook for about 10 minutes, until the leeks are softened but not browned. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add the chopped greens. Cook until the greens are tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pasta to the skillet, discarding the pasta cooking water. Toss the pasta with the greens, adding the remaining tablespoon of oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Divide among individual wide, shallow bowls. Top with the cheese, if desired. Makes 4 servings.
– Adapted by Casey Seidenberg from “Greens Glorious Greens!” by Johnna Albi and Catherine Walthers (St. Martin’s, 1996)

Slip greens into pasta for kids

Dark leafy greens, especially the typified kale, are enjoying their season in the spotlight. It’s about time!

Leafy greens are now found on menus at high-end restaurants and even some fast-food joints. Families across the country are roasting kale, and these kale chips are now sold in many grocery stores.

Amid all of this publicity, the message should be clear: Dark leafy greens are good for us. Greens are high in calcium and iron, among other minerals, and vitamins A, C, E and K. They are loaded with fiber, folic acid and chlorophyll.

So it isn’t surprising that parents constantly ask me how to encourage their kids to eat dark leafy greens. One of my regular suggestions is to start with pasta, a food kids generally love, then add the greens.

Instead of adding big leaves, which might deter a greens-adverse kid, chop a bunch of dark leafy greens into tiny pieces. We’ve all watched a large bag of spinach steam itself into almost nothing. The same holds true with other leafy greens. Even though I am not a fan of tricking our children into eating healthful food, it can work to our advantage that they have no idea just how many leafy greens they are consuming when they take a bite.

Start with a small handful of greens (spinach, arugula and Swiss chard, for example) to help familiarize your child with the flavor of sautéed greens, then add more each time you make the recipe.

– Casey Seidenberg, Washington Post