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Simple Greens

March 8, 2010

Glorious Greens

The NY Times has a good recipe for Winter Greens but it’s a little involved for me at the moment.  As I’ve never been a fan of over-cooked or boiled greens, I prefer preparations that cook them lightly.  Or dry them out as seen in part two.

Here’s two simple ways to prepare my favorite green – Kale – without much fuss at all.

Part One – Sauteed:   Take one head of lacinato kale (i prefer sauteeing lacinato, see below for normal curly kale…) and leaving the rubber band on the stems, cut the whole bunch in about 1/2″ segments, stems intact. Wash the cut leaves quickly under running cold water and leave to drain in a colander.  Be sure to shake them around quite a bit to get as much excess water off as possible.  You’ll see why in the next step.

Prepare a large saute pan (or wok) over medium-high heat.  When pan is hot, add two tablespoons good olive oil, a few slivers of garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.  Once the garlic begins to sizzle, add the greens in one large handful.  Be sure to do it with purpose!  If you linger with the greens over the pan, the dripping water will splatter something fierce.  If you do them all right at once, the splatters will be contained.

Immediately add two pinches of kosher salt.  Toss the greens around gently with a spoon or your favorite utensil.  As they begin to wilt down the splattering will subside.  As soon as the kale has turned to very dark green and they have all wilted they are ready to eat!  Use over rice with a side of stewed beans, as a topping for grilled fish, or simply as they are.

This preparation lends itself wonderfully to many different iterations.  Try adding a sprinkle of soy sauce or tamari during the saute phase, add walnuts or pine nuts…the earthy richness of the kale is a great background on which to paint your wintry green carnival.

Part Two – Crispy Kale:  First things first, pre-heat your oven to 200deg F.  Then take one whole bunch of curly kale and de-stem thoroughly.  The stems hold a great deal of moisture and will prevent effective drying.  Then take all of the leaves and tear them by hand into pieces approximately 2″ x 2″.  Don’t worry about measuring, but the pieces will shrink while drying, so you don’t want them too small.

Wash and spin-dry the leaves after they’ve been cut.  Arrange the leaves loosely on two cookie sheets.  If you have an olive oil mister, now would be the time to use it to spray them all evenly.  If you do not have a mister, simply drizzle olive oil across all of the torn pieces and mix around to insure they’re all coated evenly.  Sprinkle kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper across them all and place both cookie sheets in the pre-heated oven for 45min.

Once or twice during the cooking you will need to open the oven door (it helps release the moisture build-up) and toss the leaves around.  You want to keep them loosely arranged so they’re not touching.  Too much crowding and they won’t dry correctly.

Depending on your oven, they will be completely dry in the 45min range, more or less.  They’re ready once they are completely dry and crispy!

Pull the sheets from the oven and let them cool right on the sheets as the residual warmth will ensure a good crunch.  They will keep a few days if stored in air-tight containers.

You can sprinkle the finished kale on salads, eat them as a great anti-oxidant rich snack, or feed them to the kids.  They love ’em!

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