I have not been writing as much about beer as I thought I would. I think I overestimated my enthusiasm. That is not to say that I am not enjoying a few sips of beer here and there, only that I really can’t drink too much of it too often. I still have some very exciting beers to try, and a new recipe that involves a bottle of a (very expensive) beer that I didn’t enjoy drinking. My goal is to write about beer once a week, and to do several posts throughout the week as well.
Today I am writing about kale. I could write an entire ode to kale, but I will limit myself in this case. I have found that many people are surprised by their love of kale and many lovers of kale are wonderfully enthusiastic about kale. I am one of those enthusiastic kale lovers. Kale really is good.
As I have mentioned previously, I have a stash of (frozen) kale in the field at the farm. At this point, the kale is an entirely different creature from what kale is in the spring and in the fall. It is sturdy. I would say tough, but tough has such negative connotations, and I cannot bring myself to say anything bad about kale. It is very sweet and actually bitter at this point. But, it is still one of my favorite vegetables, and the only fresh green I have around, so I eat it. A lot.
I have gotten into a great rhythm of preparing kale. I mainly use one method of cooking it, blanching, and then I dress it. Sometimes when I am really hungry I sauté it with a lot of oil and garlic. I also enjoy cooking it in a hearty stew or soup. Kale can also be eaten raw. If you are going to eat raw kale, I suggest choosing a curly variety and eating it in early spring or fall, when the kale is young and bright. It certainly won’t be as sweet as in late fall or winter, but it will lack bitterness and tough texture.
The following preparation and dressing ideas are my weeknight mainstays. Kale can be prepared many more ways than what I outline here. However, I find it very satisfying to sit down with a big bowl of kale and gobble it down, opposed to eating kale in a dish.
Depending on how tender the kale is, you can either cool the kale in ice water or let it cool in the air. If you cool it in ice water, it will stop cooking immediately. If you let it cool in the air, it will continue to cook and become slightly more tender, if your kale is tough like it is in the winter.
I usually make enough kale with dressing to have 2 servings of leftovers for Sam and myself for lunch the next day.
To prepare the kale:
Rinse and remove the stems of as much kale as you want to prepare.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
Place kale into pot. Remove after the kale has become bright green in color, about 30-45 seconds. Place in colander and rinse with cold water, if desired. You might boil the kale in batches, depending on how much kale you are preparing.
Alternately, if your kale is tender, you can prepare a cold water bath before putting the kale in the boiling water. Simply put ice water in a large bowl. Place the kale directly into the ice water from the boiling water, then drain.
After the kale has cooled enough to the touch, squeeze the liquid out. Chop to the desired thickness. and place it in a bowl. I usually slice it pretty thin, and then fluff it with my fingers.
Ideas for dressing:
A drizzle of sesame oil, sprinkling of salt, and chopped crystalized ginger (my favorite).
Olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing with a chopped nut on top.
Dressing of lemon, olive oil and avocado, topped with raisins, cashews and raw onion. Also good on raw kale.
Saute slivers of garlic in oil, with crushed red peppers and cumin seeds. Add blanched, chopped kale to this mixture until warm. Drizzle with sesame oil and red wine vinegar.
A dressing of tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and minced garlic. Goes well with cooked potatoes.
A dressing of grated ginger, garlic, orange juice, tamari and sesame oil. Top with sesame seeds.
Toss the blanched kale with pesto and lemon juice.
Of course, the possibilities are endless. Or rather, the possibilities end only with the supply of kale.