Foodie Friday: Kale, it’s what’s for dinner

January 13, 2012 | Foodie Friday

I went a little kale crazy this week, buying two different (and rather large) batches, so afraid was I that I wouldn’t have enough for my planned dishes. Kale is one of my favorite dark leafy greens, and, surprisingly enough, it’s also a favorite among my kids. So it’s a winner all around.

My first use of kale this week was in vegetable soup (Stone Soup), which I posted about in this space last Friday. I used only half the batch for the soup, so I clearly needed to make some other kale-centric dish. Beans and greens was added to the menu, but as the day neared, I worried that the half-batch I had on hand wouldn’t be nearly enough. So off we went to buy an even bigger bunch. Now I had too much, although I would question whether you can ever have too much kale.

So…Beans and greens. So easy. So delicious. So healthy. But, wait, before, I made that entree, I whipped up a batch of kale chips. First time for that. Big hit. I’ll try it again soon. Here are the two easy kale recipes:

Kale Chips
Preheat over to 250 degrees.
Wash kale leaves, remove center stems, dry thoroughly.
Toss with a little olive oil.
Sprinkle with salt.
Place on a cookie sheet and pop in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until crispy.

Beans and Greens
Like my Stone Soup recipe, this one changes every time I make it, depending on what I have in the pantry and fridge. Here’s the version I made this week:

1 big batch of kale, rinsed, tough stems removed, cut into wide ribbons
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
A handful of sundried tomatoes, soaked in boiling water to reconstitute and then sliced
Baby bella mushroom, sliced
Six cloves of garlic, thinnly sliced
A splash of white wine
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 pound pasta, something short and chunky — ditalini, farfalle, shells, even rigatoni
Parmesan cheese (for the table)

Put a pot of water on to boil. Meanwhile, prep the rest of your ingredients.
When water comes to a boil, salt it and toss in kale to blanch quickly. Just a minute or so. Then drain and set aside. (Keep the water so you can boil the pasta in the same water/pot.)

In a large frying pan, add a swirl of olive oil and heat the garlic slices.
Add mushrooms and sundried tomatoes and saute for a bit over medium heat.
Don’t allow garlic to brown.
(Around now you should be putting the pasta into the already boiling, kale-scented pasta water.)

Add the beans to the frying pan and saute a minute or so more.
Throw in a splash of wine (if you like) or a splash of veggie or chicken broth.
When the pasta is close to done, add the kale to the saute pan.
Season with salt and pepper.
If it seems dry, take a little pasta water and add it to the saute pan.

Drain the pasta when it’s al dente and add it to the saute pan, if it’s big enough.
Otherwise, dump all of it into the serving bowl.
Serve with grated parmesan cheese on the side.

Add a nice salad and some crusty bread and you have an awesome dinner. (And at our house, the meat eaters had a link of chicken-pesto sausage on the side. Olivia and I had a tofu sausage, but it really didn’t need it.)

You could also skip the pasta and make this as a side dish.

So there you have it: kale, the wonder veggie. Do you have any favorite kale recipes?

Coming up next week: Quinoa cakes with roasted red pepper sauce, which is on tonight’s menu for the vegetarians. (Meat eaters are having pork pizzaiola. Dennis will need to start a blog if you want that recipe.)


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