Monday, July 27, 2009

Making friends with Kale

Other people are afraid of snakes or thunderstorms.

Me? I'm afraid of kale.

It's so big and green (or purple) and leafy, I find it intimidating. I don't know what to do with it.

But if you're a member of the Park Slope Food Co-Op, kale (and swiss chard), along with tofu and organic milk, seems to be an essential purchase. Trying my best to fit in, the other morning, I tossed a giant bunch of kale into my shopping basket.

"What are you going to do with that?" the nice check-out lady asked.

"Um, I'm not exactly sure."

"Well, it's hard to go wrong with kale," she said.

"If anyone can do it, I can -- go wrong, that is."

Desperate for kale advice, I turned to twitter, where I solicited help:

"Kale scares me. Any tips for making kale my friend?" I asked the twittersphere.

I immediately got enthusiastic responses from generous foodies wanting to share their knowledge and, in particular, their passion for kale.

LastNightsDinnr advised: Heat evo (that's code for extra virgin olive oil), add garlic/chile flakes/kale/salt, cook until as soft as you like. Finish w/sherry vingr or else sausage, white bean and kale soup.

suggested that I "saute onions + garlic in olive oil, add chopped kale, saute until just wilted, add combo of vinegar, worcester, tamari, herbs."

Flourgrrl had a good tip -- "Kale chips: Tear into bite-sized pieces, drizzle w/EVOO & salt. Bake at 350 for 10 min., or 'til browned. Awesome!"

She also recommended making a "green" smoothie -- "Normal smoothie w/ fruit but toss in kale/other greens. Sounds weird but it's great."

These recipes all sounded great (well, maybe not the "green" smoothie), but I opted to go with the Quinoa Pilaf recipe I picked up from the windowsill at my Pilates studio:

Quinoa Pilaf

2 cups quinoa, washed very well
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
3-4 leaves swiss chard or kale, finely chopped, stems removed
1 ear of corn, shaved (can use frozen)
1 TBS sesame or olive oil
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped finely
3 cups water
1/4 tsp. sea salt
umeboshi vinegar (optional) or sea salt to taste


1. Bring water to a boil. Add sea salt and quinoa. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

2. In a separate saucepan, heat oil and saute onion for 2-3 minutes or until translucent.

3. Add carrots, corn, vegetables and sea salt and saute until tender.

5. Add a splash of umeboshi vinegar at the end.

5. Place quinoa in a bowl. Add vegetables and chopped parsley.

6. Mix gently and serve.

Top with lightly roasted and chopped nuts or seeds of your choice. Also delicious with cooked chicken breast or tofu.

I phoned Avo at work to double-check how to dice onions, but since he was in a meeting, I had to revert to the internet. I found directions here.

In hindsight, I realize that I should have broken out the food processor since I ended up not dicing the vegetables small enough (and, in fact, I tore up the kale by hand!).

Also, I should have been more careful when tossing the onions into the hot pan since the oil splattered and I burned my arm. I didn't cry though since my eyes were already teared up from cutting the onions.

I neglected to top it with roasted nuts or seeds or chopped parsley, but it still tasted good!

Avo and I ended up eating it cold. A very refreshing, healthy summer salad! And later today, I might even try to make some of those kale chips.

I can't say that kale is my friend yet, but we have definitely become acquainted.


Jennifer Hess said...

That sounds fabulous - I'm so glad you're learning to like kale, and glad I could provide a few ideas for you :)

Undomesticated Me said...

You're an inspiration!
I'm adding you to my blogroll right now...