You’ve gotta hand it to kale. After a winter of miserably cold, wet and gray weather, it’s one of the last vegetables standing in the garden. And if it’s resilience weren’t enough, kale somehow manages to come back even sweeter after surviving every adversity our Northwest winter throws it’s way. That’s more than I can say for myself. Winter rarely inspires sweetness on my part, especially once the holidays are over, so I find kale strangely inspiring.
Never knew a thing about kale growing up in the South. Sure, we had collards, mustard and turnip greens cooked beyond recognition in a big pot in the school cafeteria, served with vinegar. I don’t think I ever tasted lightly steamed kale until I moved to this part of the country. These days, I’m rarely without a bunch of it in the fridge to use in soups, stir-fries or even raw in salads. I’m partial to the Lacinato or Dinosaur variety but it’s all good and so good for you.
On the rare occasions I’m cooking only for myself, one of my favorite meals is a fried egg on a bed of steamed kale. It’s fast food that’s high in protein, meatless and loaded with vitamins and minerals, and simply delicious. The only time-consuming part of cooking kale is removing the ribs, which isn’t even necessary when it’s very young and tender. I lay each leaf face down on a cutting board and cut with a sharp knife down the entire length of the rib, first on one side, then the other. You can also fold it back, top sides together and make one cut along the rib. Once you get into a rhythm, it’s very fast.
Fried Egg on Bed of Steamed Kale
Ingredients: 1 or 2 eggs for each serving/ 1 large bunch of kale/ 1 -2 T olive oil/ 1 clove garlic, chopped (optional)/ grated cheese/ sea salt & freshly grated pepper.
Directions: Wash kale. Remove ribs and stems, chop into bite-sized pieces/ Heat oil in a large skillet/ If you’re using garlic, saute for a minute or two/ Lightly saute kale, coating with oil/ Cover skillet and steam kale until wilted but still bright green, adding a tablespoon or so water, if needed/ Make a round opening in kale large enough for a large egg yolk/ Crack egg and place in opening on bed of kale/ Cover again and cook until yolk looks cloudy and firm/ Sprinkle with grated cheese/ Remove from the heat and cover until cheese is lightly melted/ Add salt and pepper to taste.
Kale is also an excellent addition to pasta dishes. It perfectly compliments the nutty and slightly sweet flavor of this whole wheat pasta with caramelized onions and lentils making your next meatless Monday a no-brainer.
Pasta with Kale, Lentils and Caramelized Onions
Ingredients: 1/2 cup small green (French) lentils/ 2 cups water/ 3 T olive oil/ 1 large onion, thinly sliced/ 3/4 lb (or 1 large bunch) kale/ 3/4 lb pasta (I used whole wheat penne)/ grated parmesan cheese/ salt & pepper.
Directions: Simmer lentils in water with 1/4 t salt, uncovered until tender but not falling apart, about 25 minutes. Add more water to keep lentils barely covered, if necessary/ Heat oil in heavy skillet over moderately high heat/ Saute onion with pepper and salt, stirring for a minute or two/ Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and golden, about 20 minutes/ Remove lid, increase heat to medium and cook, stirring until onion is golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes longer. ( Take the time to let the onions caramelize to maximize their sweetness).
Remove ribs and stems from kale/ Cook in large pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, just until tender, 5 to 8 minutes/ Remove kale from water with tongs, chop and add to onions, along with cooked lentils/ Bring the kale-cooking liquid back to a boil, add pasta and cook for recommended time until al dente/ Drain pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking liquid/ Add pasta to lentil, onion, kale mixture along with 1/3 to 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid/ Cook over high heat, tossing together for a minute or two/ Add salt & pepper to taste/ Top with grated parmesan cheese and serve.
This recipe was inspired by Gourmet magazine, April 2007 and can be found on Epicurious.com
One of our most requested recipes is Massaged Kale, check it out here. Then there’s also Kale Chips and Kale Rolls. Steamed, massaged, rolled or chipped, any way you do it, remember to put kale on your winter table.