In The Kitchen with Chef Dan

Mad Greens - Chef Dan's finished plate

Weeknight Kale and Italian Sausage Pasta. Photo courtesy Mad Greens.

Getting kids into the kitchen is one of the easiest and most fun ways to get them excited about  cooking and eating better. That’s why Chef Dan Long, MAD Greens Co-Founder and Chief Culinary Inventor, has come up with some easy-to-prep and prepare recipes that are great for busy families who may not always have a ton of time to make a healthful meal.

The dish below is designed to be easy – incorporating a pre-made sauce base that saves time during the cooking process. The sauce can be made in advance and portioned out to be used in various recipes throughout the week.

“In addition to being easy to prepare, another goal with this dish was to incorporate vegetables in a fun and tasty way to help get kids excited about what they’re eating,” says Long. “The recipe can be used as a starting point for both kids and adults to play around with. Feel free to change up the ingredients to match the taste preferences of everyone in the family.”

 Weeknight Kale and Italian Sausage Pasta 

This pasta dish combines fun-shaped noodles (seriously, who doesn’t smile when they scoop up a spoonful of farfalle noodles?), a hearty dose of Tuscan Kale and a delicious homemade pasta sauce and makes any weeknight meal just a little more awesome. Enjoy!


Mad Greens - Chef Dan cooking Kale

Chef Dan prepares the kale. Photo courtesy Mad Greens.

1/2 lb. Pasta – farfalle or another interesting shape

1/3 lb. Mild Italian sausage – you can substitute spicy sausage

1 bunch Tuscan kale (also known as black or lacinato kale) – cut into ½ inch strips. Discard the stems

1 ½ c. Dan’s homemade pasta sauce (recipe below) or whatever pre-made pasta sauce you have on hand

1 c. Reserved pasta cooking water

Parmesan – to taste

3-4 leaves Basil – cut into very fine slivers


  • Start cooking pasta according to directions on package.
  • While pasta is cooking, break apart sausage and cook in a large saute pan. Once sausage is nicely browned and cooked through, add kale. Cook until kale starts to wilt and then add about ½ cup of pasta cooking liquid.
  • Add tomato sauce, allow to come to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer.
  • When pasta is done, reserve ½ cup of the water and then drain the pasta. Add the pasta and reserved water to the sausage and kale. Mix everything together until pasta is well coated. There should not be much (if any) loose sauce in the pan.

Top with freshly grated Parmesan and basil. Serves 4.

Mad Greens - Chef Dan prepping pasta

Chef Dan adds shredded Parmesan to the dish for a finishing touch. Photo courtesy Mad Greens.

Chef Dan’s Zesty Homemade Tomato Sauce

This flavorful tomato sauce can be used as the staple ingredient in several recipes. It is a base that can be made in advance, frozen and subsequently used for several different dishes over time.


4 Cans “San Marzano” style whole peeled tomatoes – drain off the juice

2 Onions – medium dice

4 Cloves garlic – finely chopped

1 tsp. Salt

1.2 tsp. Fresh ground black pepper

1 tsp. Dried oregano

4-5 Sprigs fresh thyme

1 TBS. Balsamic vinegar

1 TBS. Honey or agave – adjusted to taste


  • Over medium heat cook onions until they start turning translucent.
  • Add garlic, let cook an additional 1 min. Add tomatoes.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients.
  • Let cook for 2 hours over very low heat the sauce should be barely bubbling. Stir occasionally to keep the sauce from burning.

After the sauce is cooked you can use an immersion blender to make the sauce smooth or you can leave it as is. This is entirely a personal preference. Use within 3-4 days or freeze.


About Chef Dan

Chef Dan Long is the Co-Founder and Chief Culinary Innovator at MAD Greens. Long and business partner Marley Hodgson founded Colorado-based Mad Greens – Eat Better in 2004. They were intent on addressing the lack of fresh, fast and healthy fare available to the average American consumer.




Quick and Healthy “Tidbit” Side Dish

By Edan Goode

Lately, I’ve found myself making meals out of tidbits from the fridge. Part of that is because I’ve been super busy lately and just haven’t done the menu planning … or the shopping for said menu planning for a couple of weeks. Ironically, the impromptu, experimental cooking I’ve had to do lately has resulted in some really good meals. For instance, here’s a side dish I made last night that could easily be a vegetarian main dish on its own, with quinoa or polenta. I made something similar the other day and served it over a slice of crusty bread, topped with a sunny side up egg. I’m liking this “tidbit” cooking!

Chard Side Dish 2

The finished product. Isn’t it pretty?

As I started pulling things from the refrigerator to make a side dish, here’s what the various ingredients in front of me formulated into:

Saute a little bacon, onion and garlic. Smells SO good!

Saute a little bacon, onion and garlic. Smells SO good!

Rainbow Chard with Kale, Bacon, Onion and Tomato! 


Rainbow Chard and/or Kale

Bacon Onion (any variety)

Tomato (any variety-Cherry tomatoes cut in half would be especially pretty)


1. Chop up one or two slices of bacon and stir them around in a pre-heated, ungreased skillet. As they start to brown, the fat will render, so that you can add…

2. One onion, sliced or chopped. Saute it with the bacon pieces until the onion starts to become translucent. Add…

3. Two cloves of garlic minced. (Hint, always add garlic after onion because garlic cooks much faster than onion and will burn and turn bitter. You just want garlic to be slightly past the point of being raw to bring out its best flavor.)

4. Add as much chopped and washed Rainbow Chard and/or Kale as your pan will hold, mounding it. Drizzle with olive oil, stir around and cover with a lid.

5. Stir periodically, adding a splash of water if you need to but between the bacon fat, olive oil and slight moisture from the onions, it shouldn’t stick. The greens will cook down. Don’t let them completely wilt. Remove them from the heat when they still look fresh and not a wilted mess. This preserves flavor and nutrition and looks prettier.

6. Near the end, add 1 diced tomato. You are just warming it up, not cooking it down.

7. Finish with a drizzle of fresh lemon juice if you have it (about 1 teaspoon) and a grind or two of sea salt and black pepper.

With something off the grill, this was the perfect meal for the first dinner on the patio of the year!

With something off the grill, this was the perfect meal for the first dinner on the patio of the year!

I served this with grilled pork chops and mini corn meal muffins for a healthier twist on a  Southern-inspired meal. It was delicious. Even my kids loved the greens. Bacon and onion make everything a little better…

Sneak peek at a new e-cookbook, “Iowa Farms, California Tables” By Edan Goode

You can take the woman out of the midwest (and plop her in Hollywood, marry her to a big-wig TV exec and expect her to wine and dine celebrities) but you can’t take the midwest out of the woman. Good thing because then there wouldn’t be the new cookbook by Lori Aronsohn, Iowa Farms, California Tables.

Inspired by the fresh, farm-to-table dishes of her midwest upbringing, Aronsohn set about recreating the meals of her youth with a contemporary feel and healthy bent. Recipes include sauteed vegetables with goat cheese and parmigiano-reggiano, turkey tetrazzini for busy families, snickerdoodles and strawberry pie.

The cookbook is presented in e-book form with beautiful photographs, videos and the ability to highlight contents and link to resources, such as a directory to locate sometimes hard-to-find items.

Arohnson was kind enough to share a few of her recipes with us:

No Regrets Mac and Cheese                                                                                                                                           

No Regrets Mac And Cheese

Make this as healthy as possible by using whole wheat or whole grain pasta and breadcrumbs.

Serves 4 to 6.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1 pound macaroni or penne pasta

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

4 tablespoons breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups low-sodium organic chicken broth

1 teaspoon mustard powder

2 cups shredded white sharp cheddar cheese

Cook pasta until almost done and drain thoroughly.  Spray a 2-quart baking dish with vegetable oil spray.  Mix Parmigiano-Reggiano and breadcrumbs.

In a large saucepan or deep skillet over medium heat, melt butter and whisk in flour to make a roux.  Add broth and mustard powder and whisk thoroughly for one minute.  Reduce heat and add cheddar, stirring until incorporated.  Add cooked pasta and mix again. Pour into prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle with Parmigiano and breadcrumb mix.

Bake, uncovered at 375 degrees for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.

NOTE: For an even healthier variation, add up to 1 cup broccoli, green onion or zucchini to pasta before baking.

Reliably Perfect Roast Chicken

Baked in a clay cooker, this is a reliably perfect way to prepare a roast chicken.

1 free-range roasting chicken

1 lemon, juiced, rind reserved

3 cloves garlic, minced

dash of salt

pinch of pepper

Fresh herbs such as tarragon, thyme, rosemary, Italian parsley or whatever you have on hand.

Soak the lid of clay cooker for 10 minutes or as instructed by manufacturer.

Rinse chicken, pat dry and place in the bottom of clay cooker, breast side up.

Make a paste of the lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper.  Rub paste on the breast and inside cavity of the chicken.  Stuff lemon rinds and your choice of herbs into the cavity of the chicken.  Lay a few herbs over the breast.

Place soaked clay cooker lid on top of cooker bottom and put whole cooker into a cold oven.  Set oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake 90 minutes.  Perfect!

Kale Chips

I first learned how beneficial kale is while taking a college course on nutrition.  But, when I tossed some into a salad in my student apartment and tasted the bitter, raw vegetable, I vowed never to eat it again.  Years later Cindy shared this recipe with me and I’ve changed my tune about delicious, nutritious kale.

Kale Chips

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

1 bunch kale, washed, separated into leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon sea salt

Cut out center rib from each kale leaf.  Place leaf halves in a bowl and toss with olive oil.  Spread out on a nonstick baking sheet.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Bake at 250 degrees for 30 minutes.  Serve warm on absorbent paper.

WHERE TO GET THE BOOK:  Iowa Farms, California Tables retails for $7.99 for Nook and Nook App, $9.99 in versions for Kindle and Sony Reader and $12.99 for an iBook version which includes videos. For more information, visit