Saturday, October 16, 2010

Eat Kale, It's Good for You

Kale I think is a beautiful name.  I would not call any of my children by that name but if I had a cat, perhaps I would name her Kale.

In my 30ish I was introduced to kale.  I often see kale at the market but I never really know what to do with it.  I used to get intimidated by it - with it's unruly dark leaves, it appears to be tough and just looked plain ugly.  It was not until  my favorite food blog writer, now a columnist of bon appetit, wrote the article How I Learned to Love Kale that I took the courage to go buy bunches and experiment on sautéing it.  It was a hit at the dinner table and my husband said this could be my signature dish.  I was amazed how flavorful it turned out, and was surprised about its texture.  It was not tough at all, it was soft but it had a mild crunch to it.  One thing I like about it is that it does not overcook easily as other leafy vegetables.  In fact the longer it cooks, the more its beautiful flavor develops - earthy & sweet.  Since that day, I have cooked kale every chance I got,  after all it is very good for the health.

For the past few years kale has become more popular for its unsurpassed health benefits like lowering your cholesterol & lowering your risks for cancer.  I have heard Ryan Seacrest now & then talk about his kale juice on air.  I would like to try to make his concoction actually but I yet to develop the courage to drink it.

Anyway, to buy kale choose those that have firm, deep green leaves and moist hardy stems.  I try also to get the organic kind as much as I can since kale is one of those highly contaminated leafy vegetables.  Get the small sized leaves, they are more tender than the larger ones.  They are best when in season which is around winter time.

Kale Sauté
2-3 bunches of lacinato kale leaves, washed, stems removed & coarsely chopped
4 strips of bacon or 4 oz pancetta, chopped (optional)
2 cups chopped tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon tomato (paste)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, thinly sliced 
salt & pepper
  1. Heat a big saute pan in medium heat then add bacon.  Cook until crisp. (If not using bacon, use olive oil).
  2. Add onions and cook until pieces becomes transparent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and saute for about 1 minute then add tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until tomatoes starts to disintegrate, about 5 minutes.
  4. Slightly increase heat and add kale.  Cover. After 2 minutes mix & flip the top leaves to go under.  Do this until the leaves are slightly wilted.  Add tomato paste if using.  Lower heat and cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly until the leaves are tender yet still crisp. There should be enough liquid from the tomatoes & kale but if it dries out before your desired doneness you may add water by tablespoons.

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