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March 06, 2008

All Hail Kale!

Eatmorekaledesign Kale doesn't have the sweet, earthiness of chard or the melt-in-your mouth quality of baby spinach: It's vegetal, strong and chewy. Which means that the green stuff can be an acquired taste.

Years after I'd professed a love for oft-maligned Brussels sprouts and lima beans, I failed to feel any affection for kale, whether Red Russian, Lacinato or otherwise.

Only since I got my first farm share and was forced to cook the veggie more regularly did I develop any positive feeling about the ultra-healthy leaves. It will never be my favorite vegetable, or even in my top 10, but I can manage to enjoy it.

On Wednesday we ran a story about Bo Muller-Moore, the dude who makes the famous, green "Eat More Kale" bumper stickers, t-shirts, and even baby onesies.
With it, we printed two recipes. Here are a few more...

Kale, Potato, Bean, and Linguiça Soup

Adapted from One Potato, Two Potato by Roy Finamore and Molly Stevens

A version of the Portuguese caldo verde is earthy and gutsy and bright with the colors of tomatoes, kidney beans, and kale. It makes a big batch, so serve it to a crowd. But it also keeps very well; like a stew, it might even be better the next day.

Serves 8 to 10

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 pound linguiça or chorizo, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 pound red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 bay leaf
1 small bunch of kale, stems removed, chopped coarse (about 4 very generous cups)
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, or 1 3/4 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped ripe tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can kidney or pinto beans, or 1 1/2 cups cooked beans
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil for serving (optional)

Heat the oil and linguiça in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat. Cook until the sausage renders some of its fat and begin to shrink, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the sausage to a bowl with a slotted spoon.
    Add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring, until the pieces are limp and the edges are starting to turn golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for a few minutes more, until it’s fragrant. Add 1 cup of cold water, stirring with a wooden spoon to dissolve any caramelized bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the potatoes, bay leaf, and 7 more cups of cold water. Season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover partway, and cook for 10 minutes. Add the kale, and continue to simmer until the kale and potatoes are tender but not falling apart, 10 to 15 minutes.
    Add the tomatoes, beans and the sausage, and continue to simmer for another 8 to 10 minutes. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper and serve in wide soup bowls. The soup will really sing if you drizzle each bowl with a thread of fruity olive oil.
    If you are serving this on the second day, make sure you have plenty of broth. Add water to thin the soup and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Polenta & Greens

from Heather at Pete's Greens

2 bunches cooking greens, such as kale, collards, chard, spinach
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
Dash red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste
2 carrots, halved and sliced (optional)
Italian seasoning herbs (optional)
Sliced shitake mushrooms (optional)
1 c grated cheese, provolone, cheddar, fontina, even feta, as you like

Wash and chop the greens. Sauté onion, garlic, and carrots and/or mushrooms in olive oil. Season with salt, pepper & red pepper and Italian herbs. Cook until browning and fragrant. Gradually add the greens, stir frying until all are incorporated and just wilted.

1 c polenta (coarse cornmeal)
3 c water
1 tsp salt

Boil water & whisk in polenta & salt. Turn down very low, watch out for sputters. Cook until thick, stirring often.
Brush a baking dish with olive oil. Pour in about 2/3 of polenta, spoon in the greens, top with remaining polenta & cheese. Take a butter knife and swirl through the top layers a bit. Bake @ 350 until bubbly and slightly browned, about 30 minutes.

A couple notes on this recipe. It is easily doubled, which makes a generous 10 x 14 Pyrex baking dish. The polenta is easier to work with if it is poured right away when it thickens. If you wait it will set up into a more solid form. Prep the vegetables and have all ingredients ready before you cook the polenta, so it will be ready at the right time, as the greens take just a few minutes.

Crispy Kale
From Nancy at Pete's Greens

Everyone loves this preparation, from kids to adults. In a nice dish, it's even fancy enough to set out at a cocktail party buffet.

1 - 2 bunches of kale (any sort will do) washed and spun dry
1 - 2 tablespoon olive oil
kosher salt

Preheat oven to 300F. Remove kale ribs and chop into bite size pieces. Wash kale and spin dry. On a large cookie sheet or sheet pan toss kale with oil and a generous sprinkling of kosher salt. Place in oven and toast kale for 25-45 minutes, tossing occasionally, until kale is crispy. How long kale will take to dehydrate depends on both the variety of the kale as well as how dry it is when it goes into the oven. Serve as an appetizer or side dish

Go eat some kale!!


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Cathy Resmer

Ann-Elise just snuck some kale into my split pea soup. It was good.


Kale is definitely in my top ten. Maybe even top five. I like it best steamed well and topped with lemon juice and salt. The lemon seems to cut any bitterness (and, incidentally, increases your body's ability to absorb the iron in the kale). Yum.

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