Category Archives: Kale

Civil disagreement.

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Photography by Sam Armocido

November 2012 reveals great divide amongst the American people. Tomorrow’s election will leave 45+% of us deeply concerned about the next four years. Thanksgiving day will leave even more people deeply concerned about their fellow Americans’ palates. Forget politics and religion, it’s food that reveals the true regional and familial diversity in this country.

Moving to DC 10 years ago, the Southern traditions of greens and sweet potatoes were exotic and foreign. In New England, the only thing we boil for several hours is brisket, and we don’t add molasses or marshmallows unless we’re serving dessert. This past week, in the heated run-up to Election Day, I was determined to find common ground.

Maple sugar brings sweetness and depth to the potatoes while a complex Autumn Apple vinegar delivers balance and brightness. Nutmeg and white pepper give complexity to these simple, bold ingredients. Richly sauced, the sweet potatoes needed grounding, and earthy kale, quickly fried or baked, adds both texture and grassy greenness to the dish. Best of all, it’s simple and brightly colored, a perfect addition to Thanksgiving tables filled with browns, beiges and whites.

As for tomorrow’s election? We’re a diverse country, currently under great economic duress and social change. The division amongst voters and slow movement of our government reflects a system that is working, awaiting clear(er) direction from a strong(er) majority of voters. Like the growing diversity of my Thanksgiving table, I’ll celebrate the diversity of our country: not just of race or religion, but of the people, geography, industry and education that shapes our beliefs and perspectives.

Whatever you believe, please vote tomorrow. Then we can begin arguing about whether stuffing belongs inside the bird (it clearly does).

Sweet And Sour Sweet Potatoes with Crispy Kale

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs + 1/2 cup olive oil separated
  • 2 large sweet potatoes cut in 1/2” by 3” wedges
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tbs Autumn Apple Vinegar, separated*
  • 2 tbs maple or brown sugar
  • 4-6 cups water
  • Nutmeg
  • White pepper
  • 2 cups Tuscan kale cut in thin ribbons

*While most cider vinegars are overpoweringly acidic with little depth, Sapore’s Autumn Apple provides balanced bite with fresh apple sweetness. To substitute, use a good sherry vinegar and add 2 cups of fresh apple cider to the braising liquid.

Directions:

  • Heat 2 tbs oil over medium high heat in a large skillet or sauté pan. Toss in potatoes and cook until beginning to brown, turning once or twice to caramelize on a couple of sides.
  • Deglaze pan with 1/3 cup Autumn Apple Vinegar and sprinkle potatoes with sugar. Add water and cook covered for about 15 minutes until softened but still very firm in the center.
  • Uncover potatoes and let liquid reduce as potatoes finish cooking. Add additional liquid if more cooking time is needed.
  • When sweet potatoes are tender in the middle, but not mushy, toss with 2 tbs additional vinegar and let liquid reduce to a glaze. Season to taste with nutmeg and white pepper.
  • While potatoes finish cooking, heat 1/2 cup oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Fry kale, remove to paper towels to drain. Season with sea salt and serve over potatoes.*

*Kale can also be baked in the over. Toss with olive oil and salt and back ribbons at 400 until crispy. Watch carefully to prevent blackening.

 

I’m bringing salad back (Part 2 of 52)

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Raw kale is a current darling of the food scene, and kale salads have appeared on hip restaurant menus across the country. Why? Well, it’s good for you. It’s also fairly inexpensive and counter-intuitive. Hey, who doesn’t love a counter-intuitive vegetable?

Here’s the problem. It’s still kale. No matter how freshly-picked those leaves are, they are still tough and still a little bitter. One solution the food hipsters have identified is to massage your kale. Now, while I love my veggies, that’s a lot of affection just to get a salad on the table.

Here’s my solution: make a fresh, bright vinaigrette with just a pinch of sugar to offset the bitterness. Chop the kale thin –  chiffonade – and let it rest for 5 minutes after you dress it to wilt the greens slightly. That’s a salad you can love.

*As some of my demo audience noted last Saturday, this vinaigrette was closely inspired by a recent tropical cucumber salad. The good news? That bottle of tropical spice vinegar can do double duty!

Kale With Tropical Cucumber Vinaigrette

This vinaigrette would also be great over a piece of grilled fish like tilapia or over mesclun greens.

Ingredients:

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/3 cup Tropical Spice Vinegar*
  • 1/2 cup seeded, minced cucumber
  • 1 tbs cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs mint, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup Lime Oil*
  • Sugar
  • 1/2 pound kale, ribbed and thinly sliced
*No lime oil tropical spice vinegar? You can order them online from DC’s Sapore or sub a good quality white vinegar and olive oil with 1/4 tsp lime zest and a splash of tabasco for heat.

Directions:

  • Mash garlic into a paste with 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt using the back of your knife or a mortar and pestle.
  • Whisk together garlic paste, vinegar, cucumber and herbs. Let dressing rest for at least 5 minutes for cucumbers to soften and flavors to blend.
  • Whisk in olive oil. Season to taste with sugar, salt and pepper. Correct vinegar and oil balance with kale.
  • Dress kale and let rest for 5 minutes to soften.

Kale is nobody’s favorite food.

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Greens get a bad rap.

People say they are tough and bitter, the leaves big and thick, ruffly and ribbed. Those of us not blessed with a southern upbringing look slightly cross-eyed at slow-cooked, grayish collards and kale, smoky with slab bacon and sharp with vinegar. (They are a taste well worth acquiring.) With today’s busy schedules, cooking greens for hours is, at best, relegated to a Sunday supper.

That’s why I love sautéing them, cooking them quickly. Cut into thin ribbons, they no longer have the mouthfeel of a new-mown lawn. Sweet dried fruit, plumped up in concentrated balsamic vinegar cuts the greens’ bitterness and brightens the flavor – as does a healthy pinch of salt and sugar with each batch you add to the pan.

If you hate kale, or have never tried it; if you’ve read about how healthy it is and thought, “so is tee-totalling, but I’m not about to start that,” this is the time to dig in. Enjoy!

Sautéed Kale With Dried Blueberries

You can substitute dried cherries or cranberries, and any good, aged balsamic vinegar will do, but the combination of dried blueberries from Agora Farms and the richly-flavored blackberry balsamic vinegar from Sapore, is magic.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries*
  • 1/4 cup Blackberry balsamic vinegar*
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 pound kale, cut in thin ribbons
  • 2 tsp sugar

*Though not the time to use your 25-year aged, you can substitute any other balsamic vinegar on your shelf. Other dried fruits like cherries and cranberries are great with this recipe.

Directions:
  • Warm vinegar and blueberries in a small saucepan over medium heat, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add shallot and sauté until softened 2-3 minutes.
  • Turn heat to medium high and add kale in batches. Sprinkle each batch with a pinch of sugar and a pinch of salt. Add more when the previous batch has started to wilt.
  • Toss with blueberries and season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional Blackberry balsamic vinegar.