Going green is a much-used expression today indicating concern for the environment. For the cook and food consumer, greens are the way to go for a healthy diet.
Today we have greens that are steamed, sautéed, roasted and eaten raw almost straight out of the garden. A certain craziness has crept into the country’s produce section. At farmers markets we can find ourselves lost in a confusion of leaves, curly and smooth, green, yellow and red.
Easy-to-use salad mixes do the choosing for us, but at a price. It’s nice to know that all this foliage is pretty much interchangeable once you’ve decided you want cooking greens or salad greens.
This year’s green “darling” is kale. There’s Tuscan kale, dinosaur kale, blue kale, Russian kale and curly kale. I dare you to find an upscale restaurant menu today that doesn’t have at least one dish containing this ubiquitous green. Its leaves are tough and stems are sometimes woody. It is pungent when used raw and turns mildly sweet when cooked.
Kale is a powerhouse of nutrition, containing fiber, minerals and vitamins A, K and C.
As abundant in winter as in summer, it can be used in hearty soups as well as light salads.
1 bunch kale, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
3 Tbs. olive oil
In a large bowl, toss kale with oil and salt to taste. Spread on a baking sheet in one layer. Bake for 15 minutes or until kale is crisp. Serve as a snack or nosh.
Kale Caesar Salad
(adapted from epicurious.com)
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
8 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained
1 garlic clove
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup finely grated Parmesan, divided
1 cup salad croutons
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
14 oz. Tuscan kale or other kale, center stalks removed, thinly sliced crosswise (about 8 cups)
Combine the first four ingredients in a blender or food processor; purée until smooth. With machine running, slowly add oil, drop by drop, to make a creamy dressing. Transfer dressing to a bowl and stir in ¼ cup Parmesan and croutons. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill. (Dressing can be made two days ahead of time. Keep chilled.)
Toss kale and dressing in a large bowl. Top with the remaining ¼ cup of Parmesan.
Kale and Cannellini Bean Soup
3 Tbs. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
½ tsp. dried oregano
1 bunch kale, woody stems removed and leaves cut into ¼-inch strips
2 cups chopped tomatoes, canned or fresh
2 cups cooked white cannellini beans, drained
5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
chopped fresh parsley or basil
Heat oil in a large pot. Stir in garlic, onion and oregano. Cook about five minutes or until onions are wilted. Stir in kale and cook until wilted. Add tomatoes and beans and cook until mixture is bubbly. Add stock, bring to a boil, cover and let simmer 20 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper.
Remove about one cup of soup mixture to a food processor or blender. Purée and return to soup.
Sprinkle with parsley or basil and serve.
Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Feasts.” Her columns alternate with those of Faith Kramer. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to email@example.com.