Posts tagged kale
Posts tagged kale
Why is this picture of kale not oriented properly? ARG. Do me a favor and turn your head 90˚ to the right while looking at this.
Kale is Not the Enemy
We have a farm share (a Community Supported Agriculture share, or “CSA”) with Laughing Stock Farm again this year. I think they’re great, we are part of their CSA in the summer and winter, I enjoy the whole thing a lot.
That said, and even though they give us lots of options among the vegetables, I’ve still ended up with a kale glut. Some of you may also be experiencing a kale glut. (Those of you in California and the south can keep your CSA experiences to yourself here; we have a short, cold spring and no, we are not eating tomatoes yet.) But I think the problem is not the kale, and it is not even me for continually picking more kale even though we already have a lot of kale at home. The problem is not having easy kale dishes.
What we need are kale dishes we can make easily and quickly for weeknight dinners.
Here are my go-tos:
Kale and Farro - We have this for dinner fairly frequently, and I adapt it to whatever relatively hearty green is available. Chard, beet greens, elderly spinach, it all works, just add the greens earlier or later in the cooking process. I also make it fairly frequently with onion instead of shallot. Sometimes I don’t have bacon,* so I use some reserved bacon fat or butter or olive oil. The beauty of this is that it takes one pot, it’s hearty and filling, it’s relatively healthy, and it’s fairly fast to make.
Kale and White Bean Soup - So this soup takes a fairly long time to make from start to finish. That said, it makes a TON, it’s really good, it uses up a shit ton of kale. If I make this on a Sunday, we eat it for a good portion of the week and LOVE it. I love this soup. Also, in this post I mention that my friend Katy made it and found it disappointing, but I think we since discovered that she made a DIFFERENT AND LESSER soup.
Braised Kale - I often make this alongside Teriyaki Salmon. Here’s the basic recipe: “Wash your kale and remove the stems. Chop. Dump into a large pan with a little bit of chicken stock and a bit of butter. Simmer, tossing with tongs, until cooked.” You can saute onion first, you could toss with a bit of sherry vinegar when they’re done, it’s really simple.
Kale Smoothies - We’ve started drinking smoothies with greens in the mornings. Spinach is easy. Kale is sort of more advanced, because raw kale has a stronger, bitterer flavor and because there’s a greater potential for terrible texture. Our first kale smoothie smelled, tasted, and felt like drinking lawn clippings. Bear was the only one who could finish it. We’ve since improved dramatically to the point where we all enjoy the kale smoothies. Some tips: 1. Don’t go crazy with the amount of kale, start with a very moderate handful, 2. blend the kale and liquids together first so you’re not getting the lawn-clipping texture, 3. use fruits that are very sweet and tart to balance things out (like pineapple or mango), 4. add a bit of lime juice at the end if it’s missing something. We’ve had good luck with kale, plain greek yogurt, orange juice (blend these three together first VERY well), banana, frozen pineapple or frozen mango. Coconut milk wouldn’t be amiss either.
I know others have had great luck with kale chips and kale salads. I haven’t had great luck with those, but I’m open to trying again.
And I’d love new ideas for kale! Send them my way!
* I generally use just a few strips of bacon at a time, rarely the whole package. So when I buy bacon, I divide the whole pack into batches of 2 - 3 strips, wrap them in foil, label and date them, and stick them in the freezer. When I’m using the bacon, I chop it up and add it to the skillet while still frozen.
I tried the crispy kale chips once, but I didn’t time them right and they incinerated in my oven. I think there’s not a lot of room for error in terms of over-cooking.*
However, the ones that weren’t hopelessly charred were really tasty. I would definitely try it again.
* I still don’t understand people how there are people who don’t need to use their kitchen/oven timers religiously. How do you do this? How do you keep from getting distracted and burning things?
photo by Lisa Hubbard, Gourmet magazine
You know that hour in the morning before I started work, when I would sit wearing my cozy slippers and drink tea and write about food for all of you? I now spend it walking briskly outside with my dog, wearing everything warm I can find.* We also look for stairs to run up and down, because while walking tires out my legs just fine, it apparently isn’t enough for my dog and his stubby little legs. I mean, it’s good, and I feel invigorated and healthful in the manner that you would expect after spending an hour briskly trotting in cold weather on a sunny morning, but it means I have to carve out other time for cooking and internet rambling.**
In addition, it is extraordinarily important that you know about this soup that I love: Kale and White Bean Soup. Katy made it and found it disappointing, but I love it irrationally. It’s one of the first things I made when I discovered the joys of dried beans, and it has all sorts of healthy business in it, but it’s also super tasty, and it freezes incredibly well.
First, though, we have to discuss beans. Sometimes I feel like I’m the last person on earth to discover these things,*** but dried beans are great. They are really filling and healthy, so you can make a satisfying meal that’s not all meat. I try to eat less meat because it’s good for me and environmentally sound, but also because the kind of meat that I can feel okay buying and eating (organic, grass-fed where applicable, humanely-raised, from a farmer’s market or farm I am familiar with if possible, etc) is really fucking expensive and can be kind of a pain to locate. And beans are dirt cheap. Canned beans are cheap, but dried beans are even cheaper. Even the fancy expensive Rancho Gordo beans are cheap. Those ones are around $5 a pound, which is obscene for beans, but still, do you know the volume of beans that results from a pound of dried beans? It’s huge.
We can talk more about beans later, and probably will because I can talk about beans for a long time, but this recipe is built on dried beans, which means that it’s pretty healthy, and makes a ton, and is inexpensive.
The soup takes a while to cook, but it’s not much hands-on cooking. You could start the beans in the morning while you’re getting ready for work and then leave them to soak during the day. Then when you get home, start the soup itself, cooking the onions, etc, while you make something else for dinner that night. The soup will be done by the evening and you can have it for lunch the next day or night. That’s if you like to eat on the early side. If you don’t mind eating later, you could do it all in a night.
* Some time is spent also with my dog barking at trucks and other dogs, which is a super awesome activity to do around someone who isn’t really a morning person. This is an area for improvement.
** But I will, because internet rambling is one of my favorite things.
*** There was, once, a time when I know what was cool and new bands and stuff like that. Those days have passed, and I can only hope for and celebrate when the things that I enjoy come back around into fashion and I can talk about how I’ve been listening to Patsy Cline or vermicomposting for years as if I foresaw the coolness instead of just plugging along while my weird geeky hobbies.
This is how you prepare kale: wash, fold the leaves in half and slice out the ribs, chop the leaves.
In other places, people are making things with summer squash and tomatoes and I am still making things with kale, because I live in Maine. It’s okay. I’m actually secretly making things with summer squash, too, because I bought them at the grocery, and I feel guilty about it, and I will regret it when squash season kicks up and I think I will die if I have to salt and drain another fucking zucchini, but whatever. Kale. Still in season.
That’s okay, though, because I love kale and if I get a big batch of it, and if the weather isn’t too hot, I can make my favoritest soup ever. Which is this one: Kale and White Bean Soup. From Gourmet. Naturally.*
It makes a gigantic amount of soup. But the soup freezes really nicely, and it’s also delicious.
This also allows me to use some of the beans that I bought on whatever buying binge I most recently went on at Rancho Gordo. I cannot say no to the hot lady in their logo. They’re really good beans, by the way. Which brings me to the other point that I enjoy about this soup— it features dried beans, rather than canned. You could swap in canned and the whole operation would be shorter, but I feel more like I’m cooking if I start with dried beans. And they’re cheaper and have a better texture.
Back to the recipe.
Best Ever Kale and White Bean Soup
1. Cover beans with water by 2 inches in a pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand, uncovered, 1 hour. Drain beans in a colander and rinse. This step is to reduce the beans/gas effect.
2. Cook onions in oil in an 8-quart pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add beans, broth, 1 quart water, cheese rind, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and rosemary and simmer, uncovered, until beans are just tender, about 50 minutes. Depending on how fresh your beans are and the type of beans, it may take longer. It could even take quite a bit longer.
3. While soup is simmering, brown sausage (if using) in batches in a heavy skillet over moderate heat, turning, then transfer to paper towels to drain.
4. Stir carrots into soup and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in kale, sausage, and remaining quart water and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper.
Delicious. It honestly makes a whole meal.
Also, check out how hydrophobic kale leaves are! It’s not because they’re coated with anything, it’s because the surface of the leaf has nanometer-sized bumps that keep the water from adhering. The same thing happens with collards, broccoli, cabbage, etc.
* Again, seriously Conde Nast? You’re launching PARADE FOOD, a food magazine by the one magazine that I would actually rather recycle than read, but couldn’t possibly keep the best food magazine in the world around? Do you even know how much I enjoy Ruth Reichl? A LOT.
photo by sweetbeetandgreenbean
Farro and hearty greens can easily veer into health-food-store territory. You will know health-food-store territory when you find yourself there: you will feel very virtuous and not terribly satisfied. That is not what this dish is about. This is about it being a weeknight, possibly cold out, and wanting a hearty meal that doesn’t take a lot of mental thought or effort or dish washing.* With that in mind, I would highly recommend not cutting out or significantly reducing the bacon, parmesan, or salt.
I originally made this with beet greens (which are wonderful and sweet and tender and something like a bonus prize that comes along with beets), but I usually make it with kale at this point. If you’re making it with beet greens, because they’re more delicate than kale, you’ll want to let the farro cook on its own for a little bit longer before adding the greens.
In DC, I could only find farro at Dean & Deluca, Balducci’s before it closed, and a tiny Italian grocery in Cleveland Park. I don’t know what’s wrong with DC, food-wise, but it kind of blows. [Dave, reading over my shoulder: “Oh, your farro problems.” Yes.] In Maine, the local Whole Foods carries farro. You can also order it online relatively easily. It is delicious, totally worth digging around for. I liked it enough to take the bus to Georgetown on a Saturday afternoon and wade through the college students and tourists walking OH MY GOD SO SLOWLY to get to Dean & Deluca to buy it.
[Insert Leafy Green Here] and Farro
1. Cook the bacon in a large sauté pan or saucepot (make sure it has a lid) until browned and crisp. Scoop out the bacon and dry on paper towels. Leave the fat in the pan. Do you have enough fat in there? If not, add some olive oil.
2. Add the onions/shallot/garlic and cook until softened, maybe 5 minutes.
3. Add the farro, then the liquid. Bring to boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer, 5 - 10 minutes for kale (the amount of time you simmer the liquid here depends on the type of green you’re using. The farro takes maybe 30 minutes, if you’re dealing with a pretty tender green, add it late in the cooking, if you’re dealing with a tougher one, add it earlier). Add a fair amount of salt (maybe a teaspoon) and fresh pepper.
4. Add the greens, cover and simmer. The greens will reduce in size considerably, so don’t worry if it seems like they don’t all fit at first. Simmer, mixing things up occasionally (easier with tongs) until everything’s done. If it looks like there’s not enough liquid, add water. You want the farro to be the texture of risotto: soft but still a bit chewy. As you’re tasting, make sure there’s enough salt. Remember: health-food-store food! You don’t want that!
5. Serve with parmesan and crispy bacon pieces on top. My favorite is the broth left over at the bottom of the dish. Be prepared with spoons.
* This is also one of Dave’s favorite dishes. The first time I made it he was decidedly uncertain about whether it constituted a full meal or whether he would need to call in a reserve protein. Reserve protein was not required.
** Feel free to adjust the amounts, you want approximately two or two and a half parts liquid to one part farro.