It’s mid-February. The holidays have finally wrapped and daylight is stretching past 4 p.m. It sure feels like it’s time for spring, but don’t be fooled by Persephone’s wily ways. There’s still a month of winter to come. Combat the last leg of cold and flu season and fortify your diet with kale, a seasonal superfood that’s as versatile as it is healthy.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Trim stems and lay kale leaves out flat on a baking pan, in an even layer. Brush leaves with olive oil and bake until crisp, 10 to 15 minutes depending on the variety of kale. While still warm, sprinkle with salt.
Party Pleaser – I like to stand these attractive crisps in a glass and put them out for snacking. They double as décor, until eaten up!
5 ounces kale (about ½ bunch)
Salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup roasted salted almonds
Grated peel and juice of 1 lemon
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup grated Grana Padano cheese
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, blanch kale for 1 minute and transfer to an ice bath, using tongs. Squeeze dry.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine kale, ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper, garlic, almonds and grated lemon peel; pulse until finely chopped. With the machine running, slowly pour in the oil and process until smooth. Pulse in the lemon juice and cheese. If necessary, thin with a little water to reach desired consistency.
Don’t waste that kale water!
-If serving the pesto with pasta, return the blanching water to a boil and use it to cook the pasta. Saves time and resources.
-Cool, and keep vitamin-enriched kale water in the refrigerator and use it to thin smoothies, cook grains or in place of stock in soups and stews.
Take a hint from Italian tradition and use winter’s citrus to tenderize raw kale. Toss thinly shredded kale with citrus juice (fresh tangerine is a favorite) and olive oil and let soften for about an hour before serving.
Farro Risotto with Kale
2 to 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
1 cup farro
1 bunch kale, stems removed (technique), leaves thinly sliced
¼ cup white wine
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper
Shredded Gruyere cheese
1. In small saucepan, bring chicken broth to boil, reduce heat to low and keep warm.
2. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; add onion and cook to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic, herbs and farro and cook, stirring often, to lightly toast grains, about 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add kale and cook 1 minute, before deglazing with wine.
3. Add warm broth a ladleful at a time and simmer until liquid is absorbed. Repeat with the remaining broth until the farro is tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in butter, season with salt and pepper, serve hot, topped with shredded cheese.
Double Kale – for impressive plating, teepee kale chips over the farro.
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