Tuscan Kale, Cannellini Bean, and Kalamata Olive over Polenta

Kale, a humble vegetable, was all but unnoticed ten years ago except for by the most savvy of gourmands or those diehard back-to-the-landers. Those in the know were aware of what many have just recently discovered – that kale is not only super easy to grow, but it‘s also as delicious and versatile a vegetable as anyone might find.

Purple or green in color, Russian or Italian in variety, kale has become the academy award winner of vegetables – a virtual unknown thrown into the limelight by both it’s talent and the audience’s’ appetite for greens.

Because kale has so much “tooth,” meaning it has a hearty and chewy mouth feel, it can take center stage in place of meat. Only the staunchest of meat-eaters will be the wiser. As a green it is also what could be called an entry-level green – not so bitter or peppery for first-timers or kids with more sensitive palates.

We used to be more accepting of all things bitter, but as salt and sugar have become more prevalent in the American diet, our tolerance for the bitter flavors has waned.

Enter kale. Roast it with a little oil, puree it in pesto, whizz it in a smoothie and in general boost your iron; vitamins A, C and D; anti-oxidants and fiber. Go green!

kale, garbanzo bean, and polenta recipe

Tuscan Kale, Cannellini Bean, and Kalamata Olive over Polenta
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced red onion; about 1 large onion
2 cups carrots peeled and cut into 2-inch by 1/2-inch sticks; about 2 carrots
1 cup pitted Kalamata or other black olive
1 tablespoon minced garlic; about 1 large clove
1 (16-ounce) can cannellini beans, juice included
8 ounces kale, stems removed and coarsely chopped; about 8 cups
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
1 cup chicken broth
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese; about 1/2 cup lightly packed, for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or stock pot over medium high heat. Add the onions, carrots and olives and sauté until the onions begin to brown on the edges, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until heated through but the kale is still bright and chewy. Serve over polenta with grated Parmesan cheese. Use your favorite polenta recipe or find mine here.

Serves 4 to 6

Red Potatoes, Baby Kale, and Preserved Lemons

Preserved lemons are still a favorite of mine and especially this time of year when fragrant, floral Meyer lemons are available.  I preserve a bunch over the winter and then use them as little bursts of flavor in salads and sauces all summer long on the Riggin.  Not wanting to wait until the summer to have these beauties, this recipe with red potatoes and baby kale was born.

Preserved Meyer Lemons
The remaining oil is also be lovely in salads or for dipping bread.

5 to 6 Meyer lemons
1/2 cup coarse sea salt
4 sticks of cinnamon
8 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 quart-sized Ball jar with lid
extra virgin olive oil

Make sure the jar you are using are very clean and sterile – as you would for jams and jellies. The salt is a preservative as well, but it’s better to be safe. Cut all of the lemons into 8 wedges each or slice them cross‐wise. Toss the lemons with the salt and place them in the jar.  Add the cinnamon sticks, cloves and bay leaves and cover with the lid. Shake once daily for 10 days to coat the lemons with the salt. You don’t need to refrigerate them at this point. After 10 days, cover the lemons with extra virgin olive oil and refrigerate for up to one year.

RedPotatoesBabyKalePreservedLemons

Red Potatoes, Baby Kale, and Preserved Lemons
If you don’t have preserved lemons in your pantry, salty, umami-rich black olives are a good substitute.

2 pounds small red potatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced onions; about 1 large onion
8 ounces baby kale
1/4 teaspoon salt
several grinds of fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup preserved lemons

In a large stock pot, cover the potatoes with 1-inch of salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are just tender when pierced with a fork. Drain and return the empty stock pot to the stove over medium-high heat while the potatoes remain in the strainer. Add the olive oil and onions and sauté for 12 minutes or so or until the onions begin to brown. Add the potatoes back to the pot and combine gently with a wooden spoon the rest of the ingredients. Serve immediately.

Serves 6 to 8

Annie
Have a bright, sunny day