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kale, fall greens goodness

kale, fall greens goodness

Fall seems to be flying by and eating locally in a northern climate doesn’t come easily.  Basically, all my fave veggies get here on a big truck.  But, there are some cold weather lovin’ veggies.  Some greens actually prefer cooler temperatures, (and thanks to greenhouses, local growers are able to extend growing seasons.)  So the other day, my husband, (who does most of our grocery shopping) picked up some kale at our local co-op.   Huge bunches and decently priced, because it’s in season.

I know what you’re thinking, kale is that purple-y leaved stuff you put in a window boxes or container gardens on the front step.  That’s right, kale is pretty.  But, it’s also highly nutritious and fairly yummy stuff.  There are a few secrets to cooking with kale.

tip #1. Don’t eat it raw.  Well you can, but it’s won’t taste good.

tip #2. Cook it down pretty well.  (See #1.)  It’s actually more nutritious if you cook it.   I usually blanche greens when I cook with them, meaning I steam them very briefly until wilt.  Fall greens, like collard greens and kale need a little more heat to break down their nutritional structure.  Cooking over medium-high heat, watch the color go to bright green and cook them over low heat 5-10 minutes longer, until the leaves shrink a bit and look limp.

tip# 3. Shop for bunches of kale with smaller leaves.  Larger leaves will have a bitter taste, so the smaller the leaf, the better the flavor.

So, you’re kids eat this stuff you’re asking me.  Yes, they do and they asked for more!  Which leads me to…

tip #4. Mix kale into main dish recipes.  The flavors of other recipes will blend well with the kale, increasing the yum factor.

Here’s a recipe my son decided should be named Pollato.   Who am I to argue with a child willing to eat kale?

pollato1

pollato, kale with beef

1/2 onion chopped

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup red wine

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4-1/2 chicken broth

1 bunch kale chopped into approximately pieces slightly smaller than a deck of cards.  The size of the bunch will vary, so prepare enough to fill at least 2/3 of a large frying pan.  It will seem like a lot, but remember it shrinks.

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

salt and pepper to taste

2-3 bay leaves

1 lb. ground beef (bison also works well)

1 can diced tomatoes

1 clove garlic

shredded hard cheese such as parmesan, romano, manchego for topping

Start by sauteing the chooped onion in olive oil over medium heat until they become translucent.  Add red wine, orange juice, and chicken stock to create the sauce.  (It may be necessary to add the red wine when sauteing the onion to keep it from sticking.)  Add the kale, keeping the heat on medium, stir the kale in the pan until all the leaves have been coated with the broth.  When the kale turns bright green, lower the heat and add the fennel seeds, salt and pepper, and bayleaves.

In a separate pan, cook the ground beef with the clove of garlic.  I usually put the garlic through a press, but if you prefer a more subtle garlic flavor, cut the clove in half and rub it around the pan before you set it on the stove.  Cook the beef thoroughly and drain.  And the can of diced tomatoes, including the juice.  Stir until warmed.  Add the beef mixture to the kale mixture and top with shredded cheese.  Serve with bread, rice, polenta, etc.  Enjoy!

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