Last night for dinner I decided to try something new: Kale. While it is not rare or uncommon it is a vegetable I have never cooked before. Maybe that is because I didn’t really know what to do with it or maybe it's just that it reminded me of the slimy overcooked greens I remember from my childhood. With no good experiences and no inspiration to fall back on, I just couldn’t get excited about having kale for dinner.
Then a few days ago a friend enthusiastically described the potato soup she had recently made. It sounded delicious and it contained kale. “Now,” she said, as if letting me in on deep dark secret, "I can’t get enough of it!”
And you know what? She was right! While kale is merely a leafy green vegetable, when you stop to look at it, it really is beautiful. It's sturdy ruffled leaves are pretty and appealing. It chops crisply and maintains its texture when sauted without wilting like spinach, or becoming mushy, let alone slimy, in the cooking process. But not only is kale beautiful and sturdy it is also packed with nutrients and antioxidents. It seems I have judged kale unfairly! Now I am eager to make amends.
I haven’t yet tried the potato soup, though I did find a recipe at Culinate for Potato-Kale Soup that sounds like the one my friend described. Instead I used it in a stir-fry inspired by a comment on another soup recipe at Serious Eats. Here PhredYammers suggested a simple saute served over polenta. I changed a few ingredients but stuck with the basic idea and was thrilled with the result. It was surprisingly bright and delicious and I will definitely be serving kale again soon.
Kale with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Garbanzo Beans on Polenta
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
1 bunch of kale, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped oil-packed sun dried tomatoes
1 can chick peas (or garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
a pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
Basic Italian Polenta
(Note: to make this dish vegan, skip the polenta and serve over quinoa cooked in vegetable broth instead.)
Prepare Basic Italian Polenta or quinoa. (I cut the recipe for the Polenta in half and molded it in a three cup rectangular Glad Ware food storage container.)
To prepare the kale:
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and chick peas and saute for a minute or two.
Add the kale and sun dried tomatoes to the skillet. Stir over medium heat until the kale is bright and tender, approximately 5-10 minutes.
Add the white wine vinegar, salt and pepper and stir for another minute.
Remove from heat and serve over slices of polenta.