Hail to the Kale - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Hail to the Kale

Lately I have become very interested in kale, and I have been able to use it more and more in my kitchen. I served kale to some dinner guests the other night, and they told me that they had never heard of kale before. So, I will start out by telling you a little bit about this amazing leafy green.

Kale is a SUPER FOOD. You can go ahead and add it to the list with broccoli and blueberries. It is great for protecting your health and preventing cancer, since it contains cancer-fighting compounds and it is packed full of vitamins and minerals. Not only is kale healthy, it is also very tasty. It’s tastier than you probably would have ever imagined.

Kale can be found in most grocery store produce sections. I like to buy kale in packaged bags in which the kale has already been cut and washed, especially if I will be serving it raw. If the kale will be cooked and I can’t find a packaged bag, buying it in a loose bunch is fine.

I just started experimenting with kale in the kitchen within the last couple of months. Here are two of my favorite recipes that I have recently made that uses kale:

 

MASSAGED KALE SALAD

(Uses raw kale, so best to buy packaged kale)

 Ingredients
2 Cups of Kale, with stems removed and torn in small pieces;
Juice of 1 lemon, divided ( ½  of juice for wilting, ½ for dressing),
¼ cup olive oil, plus a little for drizzling;
Kosher salt;
1 ½  TBSP honey;
Freshly ground black pepper;
1 yellow onion, caramelized;
¼  Cup of Toasted Almonds, Chopped;
2 TBSP of Finely Grated Fresh Parmesan Cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Add kale, 1/2 of the lemon juice, a drizzle of oil, and a pinch of kosher salt to a salad bowl.  Massage the kale with your hands (make sure they are very clean) until the kale starts to soften and wilt. This will take a couple of minutes. Set the bowl aside while you prepare the dressing.

In a small mixing bowl, stir together the other 1/2 of lemon juice, honey, and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Pour in the 1/4 cup of oil while whisking the mixture until a dressing forms. Taste and adjust to your desire.

Pour the dressing over the kale. Top with the toasted almonds, caramelized onions, and Parmesan. Serve & enjoy.

Source: Adapted from Food Network, courtesy Aarli Sequeira, 2010.

 

TO CARAMELIZE THE ONION – Cut the onion in very thin slices. Add 2 teaspoons of oil to a large skillet pan and put over medium heat on stovetop. Once hot, add the onions and a half teaspoon of sugar. Stir to coat, and continue to toss until onions are golden brown in color and caramelized. Add more oil and sugar if needed. It takes about 15 minutes or more until the onion caramelizes, so be patient.

 

TO TOAST THE ALMONDS: Preheat over to 275 degrees. Put almonds in a single layer on baking pan. Put in oven for about 10 – 12 minutes. Let cool, and then chop to desired size.

 

FOR FINELY GRATED PARMESAN CHEESE: Use the smallest grate option on a cheese grater. Or use a microplane grater, which is a very handy tool in the kitchen.

 

ZUPPA TOSCANA

(Kale is cooked, so buying by the bunch is fine)

I served this soup at a get together at my home. Every single guest asked me for the recipe. I have made it five times since the first time I made it, which was only about 7 weeks ago. It’s that good…

INGREDIENTS

1 lb. of mild ground Italian sausage;
1 large yellow onion, chopped;
3-4 cloves garlic, minced;
½ cup white wine or white cooking wine (to deglaze the pot);
½ – 1 tsp. red pepper flakes;
4 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks;
2 cups fresh kale, chopped;
4 cups chicken broth; 1.5 cups water;
¾ cup heavy cream; Salt and Pepper

 DIRECTIONS

Place a large stockpot on the stovetop over medium heat.  Put sausage in pan and cook until it is well browned.  Remove the sausage from the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl. Add the onion to the pan and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to the pan and cook for a minute more. Add the wine to the pot and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits (when you pour in the wine, a lot of steam will come up).  Add the potatoes, kale, chicken broth and water to the pot.   Put the sausage back in to the pot.  Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer on medium-low.  Cover the pot. Let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes check to make sure potatoes are cooked through, if not, let soup simmer for a bit more.  Stir in the heavy cream and season with salt and pepper Serve immediately.

Source: Adapted from Annie’s Eats.

 

These recipes are definitely my favorite recipes that use kale. I have made other great meals with kale, such as Lemon Pasta with Kale and Spicy Sausage. I will post more kale recipes in the weeks to come. I just bought a 3 pound bag of kale at the grocery store this morning!

 

COOKING TIP OF THE WEEK

This may again seem so basic, but it will help you if you are just starting out in the kitchen. It is important to get to know your stovetop burners well. Know what settings are good for cooking on low, medium-low, medium, medium-high, and high. Find out if some of your burners have the tendency to get hotter than the other ones. I know on my stovetop there are 4 burners, and there is one that always gets way too hot – therefore it’s best only to use when I’m going to be boiling. I, of course, had to learn that the hard way.


About the author

Beth Whitesell

Looking for more recipes from Beth? Find recipes at bakeitmakeitwithbeth.com. Beth loves to cook foods of all types and is not afraid to try new things in the kitchen. She has learned a lot through cooking blogs and is happy to share what she has learned in the past few years with you. Contact the author.
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