Tuesday, February 2, 2010

brr, brr shiver shiver

This is the time of year in New York affectionately referred to as the "dead season." Nothing comes, nothing grows (Where My Rosemary Goes). I've been subsisting entirely on dried beans, various grains, apples and coffee (x3). These days, it is with a mixture of bemused indifference and curiosity that my co-workers regard me as I pull out my trusty tupperware at lunch. And it is with -- I hope -- a level of fondness that my housemate murmurs "Yep, that's a Cassie meal" when I toss a roasted sweet potato onto a plate.

But what am I supposed to do? The ground outside is cold and hard and dead. Cooking has been reduced to the most skeletal of parameters: maximum warmth-retention. That means a lot of soups, chilis, stews, crusty breads, cheeses...And while these kinds of comfort foods are no doubt superb, you can imagine how it's not just for the snow outside that one begins to forget that the color Green exists.

Ahh, but what of Kale? Lovely, dark, green and hardy; Kale perseveres through the winter alongside us. A nutritional superstar, a kissing cousin to wild cabbage, Kale is the cover-girl of every middle-aged Mom food magazine crammed into grocery check-out lines. That's right: KALE! With exclamation points!!! With MORE exclamation points !!!!!!! You can tell it's that part of winter where my grasp on sanity begins to slip, because never ever before have I been so excited about a vegetable.

This salad came together as an accompaniment to a chicken dinner I had with my friends Ben D. (glasses) and Ben S. (no glasses). It's easy, hearty and completely malleable to individual tastes. It's the perfect side, as it's mild enough to complement the main course, but bright enough to offer a nice boost to the other flavors on your plate.

Wilted Kale Salad with Parmesan

You Will Need:

2 bunches of Kale
lemon juice
olive oil

To Make:

Clean Kale. Separate leaves from stems. Discard stems. Roughly chop leaves and place in a large salad bowl. Add olive oil and lemon juice to taste, and begin firmly squishing and turning the kale. Continue to do this until the kale has become wilted -- darker in color -- and fully coated with olive oil and lemon juice. Add salt and parmesan to taste. Chill briefly and serve.

Here is a quick index of some of my favorite kale recipes. What are yours?

101 Cookbooks -- Kale & Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes

I've never had good luck with the recipes from this blog, but it's pretty hard to screw up a good mashed potato!

Orangette -- Carrot & Kale Frittata

Gourmet -- Kale, Butternut Squash and Pancetta Pie

Smitten Kitchen -- Spaghetti with Swiss Chard and Garlic Chips

Substitute kale, just as good. Or leave the chard! Still good.

Kale Chips

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - "Eggs In a Nest" at NPR

Sub kale for chard. Or use chard! Or use both! Crazy, I know...


Suzy said...

guuhhhh kale and olive oil mashed potatoes, cassie? i don't know how i missed that one, but thank all holiness that i will one day soon be momentarily relieved of my current grain/bean/kale regimen. i hate the way i eat lately; it's so boring, but i need kale in the winter and so I NEED THESE MASHED POTATOES.

(and i'm high-fiving those placemats, whoever they b'long to)

Anonymous said...

I've had kale in the last 8 meals i've eaten. Mashed potatoes with kale is what's called colcannon, and irish people eat it on halloween. I know this because I made it two nights ago, then looked it up afterwards. Only I replaced half the potatoes with mashed parsnips. Parsnips: also year-round food!

Don't forget lentils either. Probably the most nutritious plant based food around, which take less time to make than beans because you don't have to soak them.

See you in hell!

-andy stevenson