So I know the deal is that I give you a weekly recipe with The Main Ingredient. But the thing here is this – kale is such a simple ingredient with so much uncertainty surrounding it, that I thought it best to keep it really simple and give you some ideas to play with.
I like to treat kale just like spinach sometimes, so make delicious creamed kale. Remember that this leaf is technically a brassica and related to the cabbage, so the leaves are tougher and need more liquid and time. Rinse your Kale thoroughly to get rid of any grit, then roll your bunch together and chop it up put it in a pot with some salt, pepper and nutmeg and about half a cup of water, put the lid on. Bring to the boil and give it some time to get tender, maybe 10 mins. Watch the pot so it doesn’t burn; when most of the water is gone add some cream – how much is up to you, I like about half a cup again. Keep the lid off and let some of the liquid bubble away and thicken ever so slightly. Take off the heat and blend it using a whizz stick to a desirable consistency. I love this – it is more robust that creamed spinach and also has more body. Stuff some mushrooms with the creamed kale, top with feta and pine nuts and pop it under the grill for a few minutes and you have a delicious quick meal!
Chop up a few rashers of free range bacon and fry with a little butter in a pot till crispy – remove and set aside the lardons. Add a cubed potato to the pan. Fry the cubes gently for about 10 mins until starting to go golden and softening up. Put the potatoes with the bacon and add the chopped up kale to the pot. If there isn’t enough butter/oil – add some! Sauté the kale so that it all gets a good basting in the delicious toasty flavours in the pot, then add a bit of water and cover. Again, you want those tough leaves to soften up so watch them. When they are nearly there, add your bacon and potatoes and stir them though. Let them all cook together for a bit and make sure the potatoes are cooked. Check for seasoning – S&P and nutmeg coz I love it – and enjoy!
Or if you’re like me and love bubble and squeak, use kale instead of cabbage. It loves potatoes, it loves bacon or smoky meat flavours, it loves butter and cream. Play around, have some fun!
One of my favourite snacks is kale chips. If you haven’t had it don’t wrinkle your nose – try it! They are scrummy and by far the healthiest of the veggie crisps. Make sure you wash your kale in advance so it has time to dry thoroughly. Preheat your oven to 180. Remove the stems from the kale and tear or cut the leaves into nice chunks about 8cm. Put into a bowl, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil and a fat pinch of best quality sea salt or seasoning of your choice. Give it a good mix with your hands to make sure all the leaves are coated then put them on a lined baking tray in a single layer and bake for 12-15mins. I also love these with some soy sauce: use half oil and soy and less salt – umami heaven! Make sure the kale is dry and in a single layer else it’ll go soft and soggy.
If you’re into juicing or want to get into it, kale is a great one to put in there! Whether you’re brave and do the pure veggie ones or add more fruit like apple or pineapple, give it a go it is super healthy and a fantastic fast food.
Now there is one glaring omission here. If you are a soup lover like me then you are asking “where is the caldo verde?” Two problems here – I don’t know where to get chorizo from pastured animals and… I’ve never made my own caldo verde, so that would be cheating. I do think that I may just change that this weekend – I think some Bastardo saussicon from Bosman at The Neighbourgoods Market could be a fine alternative. I’ll let you know!