Monday, December 31, 2007

Hail to Kale!

I am a late comer to the kale party. For the longest time I was letting the kale from my CSA go bad in the fridge 'cause I didn't know what to do with it. I was envious (and still am) of my officemate, Alex and his partner, Sharon, who grow their own kale and eat it fresh in salads. I just plain didn't like the stuff. And I found I wasn't alone as I'd find piles of kale removed from individual boxes at my CSA pickup..undoubtedly from other CSA-ers who couldn't figure out what to do with the stuff.

My husband, Heiko, is from a part of northern Germany that does include kale in some local recipes. We veganized one of them and it's pretty tasty but time intensive and of such a distinctive taste that you'd only want it a few times a winter. Actually, that's exactly what they do in Bremen, Germany. They'll cook a bit pot of oat groats, canadian style bacon and kale and then head off for a long walk and come home and eat the stuff as a winter tradition. Heiko told me that kale is notorious in the region for helping people keep healthy throughout the winter.

And it is tough stuff. Some varieties of kale actually taste better (sweeter) after the first frost. It withstands freezing and boiling for hours quite well while retaining much of its original vitamins. Dr. Fuhrman lists it as a top food for nutritional density.

So with all these convincing reasons, I really felt it was time to find some ways to enjoy kale. The first recipe I tried was by mistake..normally we'd do beans and saute greens on pasta but all we had was kale so I figured, what the heck. It was a nice surprise and quickly became a favorite. Then one day we were out of white beans and used chickpeas instead..this became a dish that I still crave on a regular basis. We saute one onion with a little olive oil until browned, add the chickpeas and brown them too. Then we heap the chopped, de-stemmed kale on top of the mixture in the frying pan and use a pot lid to press the kale into the pan. It cooks in five minutes and we top it with a little vegan pesto. Perfect meal by itself or on top of pasta or rice.

So armed now with one regular meal kale recipe, I was on the lookout for another. I had read about Colcannon on the PPK web site but didn't bother to print the recipe, figuring I'd get around to it. Well, last night, sorting through some old recipes, I found a recipe for Colcannon. With two bunches of kale and plenty of potatoes plus tons of leeks in the freezer, it was the perfect lunch to prepare on this snowy New Year's Eve.

The result was even better than I had expected. As can be expected of an Irish dish, it's savory and hearty..just what I love on a cold winter's day. It was a big hit and I think I've found another favorite kale standby!

10 oz. trimmed fresh kale, stems removed, or green cabbage (I have yet to try this with green cabbage)
1 1/2 pounds potatoes
6 cups of water
1 cup finely chopped leeks (I used frozen and it worked fine)
3/4 cup milk (I used unsweetened almond)
4 tbsp. margarine (Soy Garden for me)
1 to 2 cloves garlic (forgot these)
Salt and pepper to taste

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

1. Blanch kale or cabbage by submerging in boiling water for 1 minute, then remove and drain. Finely chop greens and set aside.

2. Peel potatoes and cut into 1" cubes. In 3-qt. saucepan, combine potatoes and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook until potatoes are very tender, about 12 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, simmer leeks in milk over low heat until soft. Add greens and two tablespoons of the margarine, and cook over low heat for 10 minutes longer.

4. Drain and mash potatoes. With an electric mixer, gradually beat leeks and milk and remaining 2 tbsp. margarine into potatoes, until mixture becomes smooth and creamy yet firm. Add garlic (if desired), salt and pepper.

5. Serve mixture in a mound or spoon it into an ovenproof dish, smooth the top and place under a broiler to brown (I did this).

Serve hot and enjoy!

Recipe from Vegetarian Times

1 comment:

~Vail said...

This looks wonderful, I am going to save the recipe and make this as soon as the weather cools off a bit. Thanks for sharing!