My Weekend Affair with Kale

I read hundreds of articles on health foods and nutrition, but a lot of the time I just find myself putting down the magazine and continuing my old eating regimen. During my last visit to the grocery store I decided to change that. How? I bought kale.

In my house, kale was always one of those ick factor vegetables. In fact, I’m pretty sure kale was never a contender for our dinner’s side dishes. So, growing up, all that I knew about kale was that it was a “dinosaur green” and mentioning its name often came paired with a disgusted grimace. Let’s just say it was enough to stave off my interests, at least for a while.

Now, kale is all the rage. If you are flipping through a health magazine I guarantee you that kale will be featured as a super food that deserves our undivided attention and devotion. With all of this praise I had to give in to the burdens of social pressures, so during my supermarket stroll, I picked up a crisp, curly bunch of kale.

First recipe? A kale, sweet potato and chickpea stew.

I tweaked this recipe from a fellow blogger, Claire, over at Out of the Ordinary and fell in love! This is a really simple recipe and it takes no time at all for a quick dinner at home. The lime juice and butternut squash (and kale!) really add an interesting dimension to this dish. There was a smokiness to the spices, so I decided to top my stew with a bit of Iberico cheese. Iberico is a cousin to Manchego, my all time favorite cheese, and is a Spanish cheese made from a blend of cow’s and sheep’s milk. It’s a rather smooth cheese, but has a tiny bit of bite as the flavors unfold.

I like my dishes spicy, so please adjust the chili flakes and powder to your own taste!

Kale, Sweet Potato and Chickpea Stew – serves two (Adapted from Out of the Ordinary)

1/2 of a large bunch of kale (cooked in salted boiling water for 5-10 minutes until soft but still bright green); 1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed); 2 medium sweet potatoes (peeled and in 1/3 inch cubes); 2 tablespoons olive oil; 1/2 medium yellow onion (diced); 1 large clove garlic (minced); 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes; 1/2 cup chicken stock; 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika; 1/2 teaspoon turmeric; 1 teaspoon Valle de Sol chili powder (You can find this at Whole Foods, or substitute another chili powder); juice of one lime (I had a large lime so I just used half); 1 tablespoon neufchatel cheese (like a low fat cream cheese); salt to taste

garnish: Iberico cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes and cook until the onion and garlic begins to brown. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until they start to brown and soften. Add the chicken stock. Cook for about 8-10 minutes.

Add the chickpeas, paprika, chili powder, turmeric and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer until the sweet potato is nice and tender. You can add more water to reach a consistency that you like.

Chop the boiled kale into small pieces and mix it into the stew. Cook until everything is thoroughly mixed and hot through.

Add lime juice and neufchatel. Really make sure that the neufchatel is mixed in, it might take a bit of extra encouragement to fully melt into the stew.

When that’s done, it’s meal time! Split into two bowls and top with some Iberico.

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As for my second kale venture, kale chips! This is such a fad right now and before I made these I could not manage to wrap my head around the idea of putting greens in the oven, let alone them being as addicting as potato chips. Apparently this fad exists for a reason though, because these were delicious! For seasoning, I used this Hot Lava Sea Salt from Kauai that I received as a gift. It has ash from the volcano as well as chili flakes, sea salt and few other spices so it gave the chips a bit of fire (no pun intended :]). To me, my vegetarian weekend and trendiness feels overwhelmingly hipster, so I went even further by finally downloading the Instagram App.

I present you with kale in all of its hipster glory!

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Kale Chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove the leafy part from the ribs of the kale and tear into small pieces. Toss with one tablespoon of olive oil at a time. Really try not to overdo the amount of oil, otherwise your kale chips will be soggy and greasy. Add sea salt and seasoning. Mix thoroughly and lay the leaves on a lined baking sheet. Place the leaves closely together, but not overlapping. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Keep an eye out for the chips because they burn quite easily; they will be perfect when slightly browned.One bunch kale; 1-2 tablespoons olive oil; salt to taste; extra seasoning to taste


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Hooray for kale!

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