K has been for Kale since late August or early September, when the first bunches of Kale hit the farmer's market for autumn with all their leafy green goodness.
Kale is one of those mysterious greens that you see down at the end of your grocer's produce case. Usually it's piled up next to the Swiss Chard and Collard Greens. You can tell which one is Kale easiest by its leaves – they're the crinkly ones that look like a fringed green. The stalks are medium in length, very round, and tough. By contrast, Collards have broad, flat leaves, usually with longer stalks. Swiss Chard looks a bit like rhubarb, with somewhat flat leaves, and coloured stalks (usually red, but sometimes yellow). Of the three, Kale is my favourite. Collards take longer to cook, and Chard is just bitter bitter bitter. But Kale, well, it's the versatile, friendly green.
Whether you buy the green or red-tinged version of Kale, this is one nutrient-packed green, friends. And it's quick and easy to prepare, not to mention flexible in terms of what it can be paired up with. Try the below recipe as a base for some ravioli, a side for grilled steak and some potatoes, or even the base for a big pile of risotto. You name it, kale is friendly to it.
No matter how you prepare your kale, be sure to slice off as much of the stalks as you can. They're tough and stringy and unfriendly to the palate. As with most greens, it's wise to double rinse the kale before you cut it up, to get any last bits of dirt and sand out. Nobody likes gritty greens.
If the recipe below isn't right for you, you can always just chop some kale into small pieces and add it to soup, spaghetti sauces, and stews, allowing it to cook in the sauce. Like spinach, it's high in nutrients and neutral in flavour – and it reduces down from a huge pile uncooked to a tiny pile once cooked. So go on, use the whole bunch.
VERSATILE KALE with ONION & GARLIC
1 bunch of kale (green or red)
1 large or 2 small shallots (or 1/3 white onion)
2 cloves garlic (adjust to taste)
Sea salt & black pepper
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Clean your kale under cold water, and shake gently. Place on a clean towel. Working with one stem at a time, remove the thickest part of the stem from the leaves – ie at least halfway up each leaf. Discard stems.
Stack similarly sized leaves together and slice crossways into ribbons about 1/4 inch wide. Set aside for the moment.
Peel and mince the garlic and the onion or shallot.
In a very large sauté pan or wok, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the red pepper flakes if using (a generous pinch) and grind in some black pepper. They'll open up in the oil as it heats.
When the oil is hot but not smoking, turn the heat down to medium low, add the onion and garlic, and quickly toss or stir to coat. Add the kale, a generous sprinkle of salt, stir, and cover. After 2 minutes, stir again, cover, and allow to cook for another 2 minutes or so. That's it, it's ready to serve.
For extra flavour, if you have some white wine around, you can always add a splash of it (ie 2 tablespoons) around the time that you do the first uncover & stir. This gives the dish a bit of a tangy zing.
Makes enough for 3-4 people.