Tag Archives: kale

Colcannon: You had me at potatoes.

Somewhere in my patchwork ancestry there lives a little Irish. How much? I don’t really know. Probably a little slice. It’s enough to give me pale, tan-resistant skin, an affinity for the smell of rain, a tiny hint of red in my hair, and an undying love for potatoes. I don’t know very much about the cuisine of Ireland. I am sure it involves more than potatoes. Yes? Maybe one day I’ll visit and find out first-hand. In the meantime, I’ll stick with potatoes. One of the Irish dishes I’ve always enjoyed is colcannon. It’s easy to make, comforting and delicious, as potatoes almost always are.

This version has more greens than your garden-variety colcannon, which added some great texture and flavor (and a few more vitamins!). The thing about greens is they cook down so much you can eat a lot of them and not really notice, especially in a wonderful conglomeration like this. This is the third recipe I’ve made out of my new cookbook, The Book of Greens, and it’s my favorite one yet. Lest you think this book is all about healthy rabbit food and vegetarian recipes, feast your eyes on the yummy shot of my skillet full of butter, bacon and sopressata. Oh yeah, baby. Life is all about balance.

Colcannon
(from The Book of Greens, by Jenn Louis)

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
4 oz. sopressata or bacon, coarsely chopped into 1/4 inch pieces (I used a little of both)
8 oz. green or Savoy cabbage (I used 1/2 small head of green cabbage)
8 oz. Russian kale without stems, cut into 1/4 inch ribbons (I used one big bunch. You could also use other varieties of kale or chard)
1 cup milk
A few gratings of nutmeg
Salt & pepper
1 3/4 pounds russet potatoes (how much is this? I used 5 medium-ish potatoes. When in doubt, I always throw in another one, but that’s just me)

Preheat the broiler.

In a large skillet or sauce pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the onion and sopressata and/or bacon and stir to combine.

Adding this mixture to just about anything is pretty much guaranteed to make it delicious.

Add the cabbage and kale and cook until both are tender, 6-8 minutes. Add the milk and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the greens are soft but not browned, about 15 minutes.

While the greens are cooking, peel the potatoes and cut into cubes. Put the potatoes in a saucepan, add cold water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and place in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the kale and cabbage mixture and gently mix on low speed until the potatoes are mashed and evenly mixed with the greens (you could also use an old-fashioned potato masher for this instead of a mixer if you are so inclined). Season with salt and pepper.

Spread the mixture in a baking dish and place under the broiler until lightly browned on top, about 5 minutes. Remove from broiler and serve immediately.

Serves 4 as a side dish. Double recipe if eating as a main dish. <<< My plan for next time.

Colcannon and pork loin. Truthfully, I could lose the pig and double the colcannon. So good.

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Dreaming of Kale

My daughter had a dream. About kale. I’m not even kidding. She dreamed about a kale salad with a lemony dressing, dried cranberries and toasted nuts. She woke up craving kale and asked if we could have it for dinner. How often does that happen? Not often.

Another time she had a dream where she was a piece of celery and she was so sad because no one wanted to eat her. I couldn’t do much about that one. But this…this I can do. What can I say? I make dreams reality. I can also say this is probably the best kale salad I’ve ever made. The lemony vinaigrette is positively drool-worthy.

The other thing she’s been requesting lately is steak. I love steak but I really don’t make it much. It paired nicely with the bright salad and the wonderful, wonderful, warm crunchy/squishy croutons. Mmmm.

Want to go vegetarian? Just skip the steak.

 

Lemony Kale Salad with Polenta Croutons and Flank Steak

Lemony Kale Salad with Polenta Croutons and Flank Steak

Lemony Kale Salad with Polenta Croutons and Seared Steak

For Steak:
1 pound flank steak
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
Salt & pepper

For Salad:
2 bunches lacinato kale (dinosaur kale) – remove ribs and slice into thin ribbons, you want about 8-10 cups or so.
Zest and juice from 1 big lemon or 1 1/2 small lemons
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 oz. feta, crumbled
1/4 cup sliced roasted almonds
Salt & pepper

For Polenta Croutons:
1 tube of prepared polenta, cut into cubes
3 tbsp. olive oil
Sea salt

In a shallow bowl or ziplock bag, place steak and rub both sides with olive oil, garlic and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Let sit and marinate for 15-20 minutes while you prepare the salad and croutons.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, add a generous drizzle of olive oil. Let it heat up for a minute and then add the polenta cubes. Let them cook, turning the cubes every couple of minutes until lightly browned. Sprinkle with sea salt.

To make the salad, in a large bowl whisk together lemon juice and zest, rice vinegar, olive oil, garlic, dijon, shallot and a pinch of salt & pepper to taste. Add kale, cranberries, feta and almonds. Gently toss until all of the kale is lightly coated (I find this easiest to do with my hands).

Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and add steak. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing. Thinly slice against the grain.

Serve a mound of salad topped with sliced steak and polenta croutons.

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CSA Week 6: Kale and Eggs Breakfast Skillet

My farm box this week included lettuce, green beans, Japanese eggplant, cucumbers, pattypan squash, new potatoes, sweet peppers, blueberries, broccoli, beets and basil. I don’t even want to think about all the stuff still left from last week. You can bet on one thing though. There’s still some kale.

Out of all the kale recipes I have tried over the last couple of months – and there’s quite a few – this is actually my favorite way to make it. Which is a little odd considering that instead of hiding it, blending it, or otherwise disguising it, it is actually the star of this dish. I use a tiny bit of olive oil, but not much, making this more like a dry sauté. You get a little char on the edges and the texture, instead of wilted and limp, is almost a little crispy. When the yolky egg breaks and blends with it, well, it’s just pretty darn good. I make this a couple of times a week (not always for breakfast), sometimes tossing in a few mushrooms or other veggies, and sometimes just by itself.

I have the hardest time cooking sunny side up eggs, and I think it all comes down to being impatient, a quality that is especially present when I’m hungry. The key (I do learn eventually) is to turn down the heat and allow them to cook slowly. This way the bottoms don’t burn or overcook before the tops get done. It will also keep your veggies from burning or needing to be stirred as well. If you are having trouble getting those tops to set, or if it’s just taking too dang long, simply stick a lid on it for a minute or two and you’ll be good to go.

Kale and Eggs Breakfast Skillet

Kale and Eggs Breakfast Skillet

Kale & Egg Breakfast Skillet

2 cups kale, coarsely chopped
4-5 button mushrooms
4 eggs
Olive oil
1 small clove garlic
Salt & pepper

Heat skillet over medium heat. Drizzle with just a bit of olive oil (1-2 teaspoons). Add kale, mushrooms and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5-7 minutes, until veggies are tender. Turn down heat to low. Make little wells in the vegetables. Break eggs into wells. Cook on low for about 4-5 minutes or until tops of eggs are set. You can cover if you want them to cook a little faster, but resist the temptation to turn up the heat, you’ll just overcook the bottoms of the eggs and veggies. Take it slow you’ll be happy you did.

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CSA Week 5: A Kale Salad I Actually Like

Kale is not my favorite. Unfortunately, it has shown up every week so far in my CSA box. But the good news is we’ve been talking a lot lately, and we’re starting to build a rapport. I’ve found I really like it sautéed with a little garlic and olive oil and scrambled eggs for breakfast. It’s not bad sliced into ribbons and mixed with salads or pasta or thrown into a veggie medley. I have hidden it here and there in various fritters and patties and smoothies. It’s a good one to hide since other people in the household are even less enamored with it than I am.

But this salad. Kale is the star and lo, and behold! I actually really liked it. No, really! Bright, chewy, salty and sour and creamy. Good stuff. I’m not even kidding. I topped mine with a little parmesan, but if you leave that off this salad is not only tasty, it’s dairy free, gluten-free and sugar-free. The creamy texture all comes from the lovely marriage of avocado with lemon and olive oil, scrunched through the crunchy kale with your hands to coat every little ribbon.

I paired this with a couple of pan-fried slices of polenta, left over from the previous night’s herbed polenta. A little fresh tomato rounded out the plate nicely.

Lemony Avocado and Kale Salad

Lemony Avocado and Kale Salad

Lemony Avocado and Kale Salad

4 cups of kale, sliced into ribbons
A drizzle of olive oil, about a tablespoon
1 avocado
Juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
Parmesan cheese for garnish, if desired

Put kale in a large bowl. Drizzle a bit of olive oil, add the avocado, lemon juice and salt & pepper to taste. Using your hands, scrunch everything together until all leaves are evenly coated. Top with cheese if desired.

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CSA Week 3: Creamy Kale Fusilli (with Bacon!)

Got my third farm box and it was a doozy! The head of lettuce was almost 2 feet in diameter and when washed and stowed, took up two large storage containers. I don’t know what they feed this stuff, but I will be eating lots of salad this week.

CSA Box #3. Enormous leaf lettuce, kale, parsley, kohlrabi, sweet onions, zucchini, a weird squash, blueberries, fava beans, and a purple basil plant.

CSA Box #3. Enormous leaf lettuce, kale, parsley, kohlrabi, sweet onions, zucchini, a weird squash, blueberries, fava beans, and a purple basil plant.

Since I had so much lettuce for salads, I decided to get more creative with the kale (I still have some kale left from last week too, yikes!). For this recipe I took some inspiration from creamed spinach. I’ve always loved the rich creamy flavor and how the cream and garlic and onions mellowed the flavor of the greens, but I’ve never liked the mushy texture. But hey, grind that stuff up like a pesto and toss with some springy pasta and now you’re talking! My daughter actually hates creamed spinach and she’s not such a big kale fan either, but she really liked this. Of course, you toss bacon into just about anything and she’ll eat it.

Creamy Kale Fusilli

Creamy Kale Fusilli

Creamy Kale Fusilli (with Bacon!)

5-6 strips of bacon
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 bunch kale, ribs removed and coarsely chopped (I used the flat leaf “dinosaur” kale)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Crushed red pepper, just a pinch
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper
1 package fusilli or rotini

Chop bacon and cook it in a pan until crisp. Drain on paper towels and wipe pan clean.

Cook pasta until al dente.

While pasta is cooking, heat large skillet over medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and toss in the onion. Cook for a minute or two and then add the kale, garlic and crushed red pepper. Sauté until veggies are soft. Add cream and heat through. Put mixture into a food processor or blender and process until it’s creamy, sort of similar to a pesto consistency (if you like your pasta a little more chunky and rustic you can skip this step).

Drain pasta (reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water). Combine pasta, bacon, parmesan and kale mixture and toss to combine. If needed, add some pasta water a little at a time until it’s the consistency you like. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

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CSA Week 2: Drink Your Greens!

I picked up my second CSA farm box from Sun Gold Farms this weekend and my fridge is once again overflowing with produce. In this box: A huge head of leaf lettuce, a big cabbage, fava beans, sugar snap peas, curly kale, parsley, five zucchini, spring onions and a basil plant. I used almost all of last week’s produce but still have a partial cabbage and some mint, plus some broccoli that I picked up somewhere. I also bought blueberries and tomatoes at the market. Obviously there is plenty of salad on the menu this week, plus some broccoli and spring onion soup and probably some slaw and at least one other thing involving cabbage. But yesterday, it was all about the smoothies.

Yesterday I was having some issues. Issues with being a total klutz, to be exact. Every time I turned around I was knocking something over or dropping something or running into something. You would think smoothie making would be a pretty safe choice, since chopping and/or major cooking could lead to disaster on days like this. So I threw everything in the blender, and pressed go while I scrambled a couple eggs to go with it. As I’m beating the eggs, I noticed that as the blender is blending, it’s sort of traveling along the counter top with the vibration, and out of the corner of my eye I see it start to tip off the counter. In a flying leap I lunged over there and caught the floor-bound blender (as it’s still blending) one-handed (!) and as I’m setting it safely back on the counter I bumped the bowl of scrambled eggs and further scrambled them as they fell to the floor, splattering everywhere. I turned off the blender (yay, me!), cleaned up eggs, rescrambled, cooked eggs, and then poured my smoothie into glasses, dribbling a bit down the sides, but happy with the consistency, which was no doubt improved by its brief flight. I don’t recommend trying any of that at home.

If you don’t like to cook your greens, and you’re sick of eating salad, stuff those greens into a smoothie and drink them instead. You can change up the recipe to your liking depending on what fruit you have available, but I find the berries usually mask the taste of the greens, some stone fruit or banana adds sweetness and adding some herbs or citrus adds a bit of brightness as well. My kids love these and never complain about the bits of greenery I add to them. With some of the more hardy greens, be sure to have plenty of liquid and blend a little longer than usual. If you have a wimpy blender I’d probably go with spinach instead of kale since it liquifies much easier. I usually freeze all the fruit, but if your fruit is not frozen, add some ice cubes to give it that smoothie texture.

Blues and Greens Smoothie

Blues and Greens Smoothie

Blues & Greens Smoothie

2 big leaves of kale, ribs removed
1-2 cups blueberries, frozen
2 nectarines (fresh or frozen)
Mint – a couple of sprigs, stems removed
1 big scoop of plain yogurt
A few ice cubes if you want it extra cold or if your fruit isn’t frozen
1-2 cups sparkling water, juice, coconut water, regular water or milk (I like the sparkling water because it makes it just a tiny bit fizzy!)

Blend everything together thoroughly. Kale is a pretty hardy green, so I usually add some extra liquid and let it blend a long time to really pulverize it so I’m not chewing my smoothie, because nobody loves that. Add a little more liquid if needed to make it a drinkable consistency. Pour into glasses and enjoy while it’s cold. This made enough for 2-3 servings.

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CSA Week 1: Asian Chicken Chopped Salad

I like to eat seasonally, and when possible, locally as well. In my opinion, veggies taste best when they are fresh and ripe, not shipped halfway around the world or grown against their will in the middle of a different season. We’ve all eaten tomatoes in winter and there is a reason they don’t taste like much, they really aren’t supposed to exist! Eating seasonally is also more economical. It’s pretty simple, if you buy whatever is coming out of the fields at any given time, it’s more plentiful, and perishable, so it’s going to be cheaper. A nice side effect in addition to being more tasty and more nutritious.

Every year, I make a sad, mostly unsuccessful go at growing some sort of garden. I like to try. I enjoy getting my hands dirty and seeing things grow and eating veggies fresh off the plants. But reality is harsh. I am a terrible gardener. I am neglectful and ignorant and ungifted in this area. For the time and money I invest, I get a very low yield in return. So this year I wised up and joined a CSA – Community Supported Agriculture. Basically, you sign up with a farm for the growing season and receive a weekly share of whatever happens to be getting picked that week.

When I did the math, it added up to a lot less than I would normally spend at farmer’s market or planting my own veggies. Another positive was that I would receive a variety of things that maybe I wouldn’t normally choose. I think most of us tend to get in food ruts where we eat the same things over and over. This will force me to try some new things and get creative and it will also require me to actually eat a lot of vegetables, which is something I’m always trying to do. Plus it’s hard to justify eating out all the time when you have a kitchen full of fresh produce that needs to be used. So many good reasons, and you can probably tell I’m just geeking out over my weekly mystery boxes. It’s going to be like Chopped in my kitchen every week!

So I thought I would share my CSA boxes with you and a few of the things I’m making with mine. Maybe you are a member of a CSA yourself, or maybe you are a good gardener, or maybe you just like to shop seasonally at your local farmer’s market. If so, then you’ll probably be coming across some of these same ingredients.

In my week 1 package from Sun Gold Farm, I received a huge head of leaf lettuce, kale, spearmint, a stevia plant, cabbage, fava beans, snow peas and sugar snap peas. Most of this I’m pretty familiar with, except the fava beans (tried them once before) and the stevia plant (not really sure what to do with that – for now I just planted it).

Want other week 1 recipes? Check out Rice bowls with slow cooker short ribs and snap peas, or Bowties with fava beans, morels and mascarpone.

 

Week 1. I was told this was going to be the "lightest" week, both in quantity and weight.

Week 1. I was told this was going to be the “lightest” week, both in quantity and weight. It was still a lot of stuff!

I started off with something easy and familiar that would use several ingredients. I find that the kids (and myself) are more likely to eat kale when it’s mixed with other things, and cut small. Slicing it into thin ribbons here worked very nicely! I tried to chop just about everything a similar size so when you scoop it up you get a little bit of everything on your fork.

Asian Chopped Chicken Salad

Asian Chicken Chopped Salad

Asian Chicken Chopped Salad

6-8 cups chopped cabbage
6-8 leaves of kale, sliced or chopped into thin ribbons
1 pound chicken thighs
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
1 cup snow peas (remove strings and chop into bite sized pieces)
1 can mandarin oranges (drain but reserve juice)
2-3 carrots, shredded
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 cup crunchy chow mein noodles (optional)

Combine chicken thighs and teriyaki sauce in a zip lock bag or small bowl and let marinate at least 30 minutes.

In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup reserved mandarin liquid, soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine cabbage, kale, snow peas, carrots, oranges and almonds.

Heat a large skillet or grill pan to medium high. Cook chicken thighs 4-5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Remove from pan and dice into bite sized pieces. Add to the big salad bowl. Pour in dressing (start with about half of it and add more as needed) and toss together until everything is lightly coated. Top each serving with crunchy chow mein noodles for garnish.

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Kale Over Easy Tostada

After my Halloween debauchery, I decided to detox from all the sugar with a three day juice fast.  I drank four fresh vegetable/fruit juices per day, and ate a light vegetarian dinner each day.  I think it did the trick.  After a splitting headache for two days, I felt much better and stopped craving sugar.  While the juices were delicious, by the time my fast was done I was juiced out.  But still had a lot of juicing veggies left.

While I normally eat a lot of vegetables, kale and chard are not among my favorites, so I’m trying to find creative ways to use them up.  I really liked how this tostada turned out.  The onions and garlic add so much flavor to the kale, and a quick sauté brightens the taste and softens the texture.  With the yolky egg on top, it was a great combo.  I might actually buy kale to make this again.

Kale Over Easy Tostada

Kale Over Easy Tostada

Kale Over Easy Tostada

For each tostada:
1 tostada shell
2-3 kale leaves, coarsely chopped (discard stems)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 eggs
1 oz. shredded cheese (I used white cheddar)
Salsa (optional)
Salt & pepper

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a medium skillet.  Add onion and sauté 2-3 minutes.  Add garlic and kale and cook another 2 minutes,  until kale is slightly wilted and onions are translucent.

Just cook until kale is wilted but still bright.  You don't want to cook it to death.

Just cook until kale is wilted but still bright. You don’t want to cook it to death.

If desired, heat tostada shell for a few seconds in microwave (just so it isn’t cold), and top with kale mixture.  Break eggs into the same skillet, sprinkle with salt & pepper and cook until they are done as much as you like.  I like mine over easy, which means cook just until the whites are set (not clear), then flip or cover to cook the other side briefly, removing them while the yolk is still runny. Place eggs on top of kale.

Top with cheese and salsa and enjoy!

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Make Like A Rabbit

One day my kids went to visit a friend who is a vegetarian.  When they came back they reported that she was doing great, but that she was eating a “bowl of weeds.”  Upon further investigation I found out what she was eating was kale.  And really, I couldn’t argue in kale’s favor.

I’ve never been a big fan of your leafy green things.  I love salad, and have embraced the spinach (especially the baby variety) but collard greens, mustard greens, kale, etc. leave me baffled.  I don’t really know what to do with them, and truthfully, I’ve never really liked them.  When I have had them, they have been cooked to slimy lumps of science project green that leave me with no appetite.

BUT.

One of my goals in the last year has been to teach myself to like some new foods.  Foods that I have previously either disliked or really never eaten.  Especially foods that are really good for you. Like your dark leafy green things. Hello, Kale.

So I was watching a food documentary the other day, and Rip Esselstyn, author of the Engine 2 Diet, was showing some people a few recipes and one of them was a kale salad.  I was actually intrigued.  It looked good.  Kale looked good?  Yep.  So with this new revelation and very simple recipe in hand, I ran to the store and bought myself a wad of kale.

I will not say that kale will be on my menu every day from now on.  I didn’t looooooove it. But I liked this recipe.  It was simple, crisp and refreshing.  I ate this one day as my lunch and then again as a side dish with pasta the next day.  I’ve made my peace with kale and I have a feeling we’ll be meeting again soon, maybe even with a little heat involved.

Kale & Avocado Salad

Kale & Avocado Salad

1 small bunch of kale (I used dinosaur kale)
1 avocado
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt & pepper

Chop up the kale into small pieces.  Stop when you get down to the stem area unless you want to do some extra chewing; the stems are tough.  Put the chopped kale in a bowl.  Peel the avocado and scoop out the insides into the kale bowl.  Squeeze the lemon juice in with it.  Add some salt & pepper to taste.  Using your hands, mash the avocado and kale together like you were making a meatloaf.  The mashed avocado and lemon juice make a sort of salad dressing consistency that should coat all the greens.  Adjust the seasoning if needed and make like a rabbit.

This will make 2 main dish servings or 4 side dish servings.

 

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