Kale & hearty

Autumn produceLiking kale is a bit like living in Brooklyn right now – it’s so fucking hip people think you’re doing it just to be cool. You start to wonder if maybe you are. But I suppose my newfound kale obsession is at least kicking in so late that it’s no longer the hottest artisanal organic sustainable vegetable out there. I’m clearly not being a hipster about it because god, kale is SO 2010. I didn’t even know what kale was in 2010. I’d see it at farmers markets in New York and brush past it, knowing it only as the frizzy dark green stuff the smalltown butchers back in Australia would bed their chops and steaks on. By last year it was on every menu in town and I decided, based purely on its name, it sounded disgusting. But this year, I caved.

It started with a quinoa and kale pilaf. Yes, quinoa, the kale of the grain world. Really it was the goats cheese and lemon that won me over to trying it, not to mention the “one-pot” lack of washing up. And this dish has since become a staple – simple enough to throw together for a weeknight dinner, flavourful and with different textures, it also holds up well for a packed lunch the next day.

Kale & quinoa one-pot dinner

Kale & quinoa pilaf

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • ½ bunch kale
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 scallions (shallots)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts
  • 100g goats cheese
  1. Bring two cups of salted water to the boil in a good sized pot. Add quinoa (rinsed and drained), cover the pot and reduce to lowest possible simmer.
  2. Simmer quinoa 10 minutes, then add kale (chopped into 1 inch lengths). Replace the lid and simmer 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pot to steam another 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in your large serving bowl combine the lemon’s juice and zest, finely chopped scallions, pine nuts, oil and crumbled goats cheese.
  4. Check the quinoa is tender and the kale bright green – cook a little longer if necessary. Once it’s done tip the quinoa and kale into your serving bowl and stir it all together.

(Original recipe from Food52, which, if you haven’t noticed, is my new obsession.)

Kale makes a nice addition to an omelette for a smug-healthy breakfast, or you can shred it with some purple cabbage, carrots and a yoghurt dressing for a beautifully coloured slaw. Last night I tried a kale and breadcrumb linguine. Very simple, again, and dare I say it could use a squeeze of lemon or perhaps a smidgen of bacon. You can also make kale chips for a very easy snack – just be warned, you won’t be able to stop crunching away until it’s all gone! The end product is a little like those sheets of dried seaweed you can buy, but without the strange seaweed taste.

Kale Chips

  • ½ bunch fresh kale (or as much as you have)
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  1. Heat your oven to a super-slow 200F (95C). Wash your kale well and let it dry, chop it roughly into bite-size pieces.
  2. Spread the kale pieces on a baking sheet, drizzle with enough olive oil that you’ll be able to coat all the kale. Toss in a few pinches of sea salt as you work the oil through the kale.
  3. Bake slowly for 45 minutes to an hour, until the kale is crispy and starting to brown.

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