When I first got kale in my CSA box last winter, I was a little intimidated. Tough, leathery greens, stiff stalks, essence of bitter seaweed, are you sure this is good for me? According to my Whole Foods grocery sack, kale and collards score 1,000, the highest nutritional value you can get from a single food. I don’t normally take health advice from a paper bag, but it is a rather impressive number. My only question was, how could I make it taste good?
I’ve heard of some interesting techniques when it comes to winter greens. Massaging the leaves with salt to make them tender sounds ridiculously intimate and labor intensive. Just the other day I read about brining kale so you can create a wilted salad with a creamy vinagrette, not a bad idea if you are into raw food. (I personally haven’t had a raw kale salad I’ve been able to smile through.) Last winter I made a chard pesto that was divine (recipe here). I’ve also tried roasting kale to make crispy “kale chips.” Those were actually pretty tasty, but the recipe I used needs finessing to evenly distribute the seasoning, a project for another day.
My favorite method I’ve adapted is quick, it takes about 20 minutes, and is reminiscent of Southern greens. I eat it for breakfast because I’m the kind of weirdo that prefers olives to doughnuts at 7 a.m. Popeye ain’t got nothing on me!
Simple Southern Style Kale
1 bunch kale
½ onion, diced (optional)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup broth or water
2-3 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a large, heavy skillet to medium heat. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes until softened and starting to brown.
Remove thick stalks from kale and discard. (You can chop up the stalks and cook these too, but it takes longer to soften them. I’m not usually that patient.) Roughly chop kale and add to the onions.
Sautee for a few minutes stirring frequently until it starts to wilt down.
Add broth or water and cover the pan (I use my pizza pan as a lid since my large skillet didn’t come with one). Cook for about 5-10 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally.
Turn off the heat and add apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Crispy bacon bits or diced ham and a glass of orange juice make this a complete breakfast.
Ode to Kale
lacy, leathery dragon wings
bitter turned sweet
by heat, vinegar, and salt
Popeye’s no match
for my breakfast Knock Out