I have not, historically, enjoyed my leafy greens.
I know, I know! It's embarrassing! They are so incredibly nourishing, so healthful - how could I turn up my nose at such a nutritionally perfect food? And so many foodies gush over their favorite steamed/sauteed/squirted with lemon/tossed with bacon/stewed with garlic versions. But I just simply did not enjoy them. I found them unpleasantly bitter and chewy, the flavor too assertive.
But, oh, how I wanted to love them! They were all so lovely, beckoning at the farmer's market. The chard with its stems in a brilliant rainbow of jewel-tone colors, the kale with its frilly, curly leaves. I wanted to be the one at the market with those gorgeous greens lounging across the top of my basket. Yet I always walked on by, and anytime I saw a new recipe involving a leafy green, I sighed and turned the page. It wasn't meant to be.
I have seen the light! In the past month, I have been eating kale like it's going out of style, thanks to two of my dearest girlfriends/cooks, Heather and Sarah. (And with a little help from the amazing kale from Be Wise Ranch, here in San Diego.) So here are the two recipes that have turned me from kale-phobic into kale-fanatic. Now that I'm head over heels for these two versions of kale, I'm ready to venture forth and try some of those kale (and chard, beet greens, mustard greens, collard greens, etc.) recipes I've been ignoring. I'll let you know how it goes . . .
HK'S ROASTED KALEHeather is one of my college girlfriends and although we don't get to see each other very often, I get the joy of "hearing" her voice when I read her blog, Stumptown Sisters. And despite me never mentioning my love for Orangette to Heather, she gave me Molly Wizenberg's book, based on that blog, as a gift. So, obviously, I trust that Heather's cooking style and tastes will dovetail with mine. When I did my recent post about roasted cabbage, Heather left a comment suggesting I try roasting kale. Well, given my intense love of all roasted veggies, I knew that this was my big chance to finally fall in love with a leafy green. And, wow! This is so good. It makes an excellent snack -- Heather says it's as good as popcorn, but to my mind, it's more like eating potato chips. I've eaten an entire bunch of kale while my kids were snacking on buttered popcorn and I never even once had the desire to dip into their popcorn bowls. It really is that good. (And if you aren't convinced yet, let me tell you that my mom, who, God love her, is not exactly a health food or veggie lover, thought this was delicious!)
- 1 bunch kale (I've used both green and purple curly-leaf kale, but I'm sure any of the varieties of kale would work fine)
- olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Wash and dry your kale leaves. Pull the tender leaves off of the tough stems and put them on a rimmed baking tray.
- Drizzle the leaves with some olive oil. You want enough to just coat them, so that they are all glistening, but not so much that they are drowning in a pool of oil. Generously salt and pepper the leaves.
- Roast at 400 (or 425 or 450 -- it doesn't much matter what temp), tossing them around every now and again, until the leaves are starting to get crispy. I like mine fairly close to being burnt -- darker than depicted in the photos below. The leaves get papery and crispy and as addictive as potato chips. I also like mine with a pretty hefty dose of pepper, but use your own taste as a guide, here. I serve them piled high on a platter. And I'm not ashamed to say that I just use my fingers, if I'm snacking.
SARAH'S SUPER SMOOTHIEMy next great kale adventure came in the very surprising form of a smoothie. My friend Sarah has been touting the deliciousness and health benefits of her "green smoothies" ever since I met her two years ago. And I've even seen her kids drink them down. But a smoothie made with kale? Seriously? It just never sounded appealing to me. And then my son got a nasty cold just 5 days before his third birthday party and I wanted to try anything and everything I could to boost his immune system and get him healthy in time to enjoy his birthday. Well, I wasn't lucky enough to get him to fall in love with the smoothie -- he refused to try it because it was green (which makes zero sense, since he adores guacamole and eats salad). But I fell in love, instead. Here is the basic recipe.
PS Lyn, that title pun was for you! ;-)