The Ways of Kale on Menu Monday
How much resistance did you show at the market last week? I feel I showed incredible restraint. No restraint on Catalina Farm’s jewel box mini summer squash. I went for quarts of peaches, pints of pears, nectarine seconds that mostly already went into a cake, gobs of tomatoes, peppers more expensive than I should really pay. All that, but I decided to skip Farmer Vicki’s “lipstick” peppers that looked a hell of a lot like big red wax lips. I went past all the fingerling potatoes. I saw the first grapes of the year, but did not purchase. Much other stuff I where I showed restraint.
A few days before the Oak Park Farmer’s Market, I got my weekly CSA box. It came with sweet corn, muskmelon, summer apples, many assorted peppers up and down the Scovile scale, two bags or rocket, eggplants, cherry tomatoes, heirloom yellow cucumbers. I also picked up last week at Caputo’s some green tomatoes for a pasta recipe I saw in a new book. I have fruit still from points east, plums and pears. I have a bowl full of green “roasting” peppers from like two CSA’s back turning shades of red in the dining room. I could look back at assorted other Menu Monday posts to be reminded of other foods still around. I will tell you, however, what I do not have, kale. Still, our friend at Eli’s Cheesecake “MailorderAndie” wants to know about kale. Let’s put kale on the menu this Monday.
Andie looked at our 44 (now 46 with comments) ways to use peaches and said:
i need 44 ways to use Kale. Chad gave me a boatload of it yesterday and I’m up against it to get it all used in a few days.
We are here for you Andie. We love kale. Actually, we love kale best in the fall when kale is nicely thriving when all the other plants find it too cold. Then, kale will be at its sweetest. Do not just throw your current boatload in the compost though; we think you’ll enjoy it anyways. Kale is one of those “greens”, meaning leafy things that are too tough and too strong in flavor to eat raw (except in their most immature forms). Kale also falls into the pot with the heartier greens, collards, turnips, mustard as compared to the softer ones like chard, spinach and beet greens. Hearty as it is, it does not need to be cooked for hours to enjoy.
The distinguishing feature of kales, and these days in fancy markets kales can go by such fancy names as cavolo nero and lacacinto, is their hard, feathery or pebbly surfaces. No one hides kale in a recipe. And that’s the point too, take advantage of kale’s titanium skin. Kale is used much in soups, like the traditional Spanish caldo Gallego or the Portuguese caldo verde. Kale can stand up to a good hot broth. It pairs nicely with beans. You can, of course, cook that skin into submission with something porky, a prosciutto end, hocks, a slab of Nueske bacon. For this kind of greens, I advise making a sort of stock by simmering your pork for about a half hour in water (a couple of dried peppers, a garlic clove or two could not hurt) then adding your greens and cooking for at least 45 minutes. Cornbread if you got it.
Kale can be cooked in other things besides big stock pots. David the Hat Hammond notes that kale can be kind of oven fried. I like kale salads after steaming the leaves. The bold nature of kale stands up to bold flavored dressings with soy, ginger, mustard, garlic or red chile pastes. Kale can also be sauteed, although have your stock pot there too as most recipes recommend the kale be blanched first. What I would not use kale for, are the things that I typically use chard or spinach. I would not use kale with scrambled eggs. I would not mince it and use it in ravioli. I would not use kale anywhere the green is there for a lot of color and not much else. You do not ignore kale.
How else will you use kale on this late edition Menu Monday?