You’re probably wondering why this blog isn’t called, “I Love Kale.”
1) It’s already a blog, and
2) “Night Cheese” was also taken.
Hopefully I’ve convinced some to give my favorite leafy green a try. I’ll admit I’ve been trying to use it in basically every dinner this winter (and now into spring). Thankfully Roo eats whatever I make him.
It was a Tuesday afternoon when Roo called me as I was leaving work, to say that he would be driving down to his mother’s house for dinner. A touch annoyed, because he had forgotten to tell me in advance, I was left wondering what I would make myself for dinner. I originally planned poaching some salmon, but that fillet was for two people.
Determined not to make it an evening of eating my feelings (and wishing there was a pay per view channel just for women) I opened my fridge to find inspiration. What looked back at me were bunches and bunches of kale (I buy five at a time every time when I go grocery shopping…I have a problem). Not wanting the usual that I make as a side, I started going through my cupboards. In the very the back, right behind a bag of shredded coconut, was a box of whole wheat angel hair pasta. Pasta was exactly the carby comfort I could go for, and thankfully I remembered a recipe in Bon Appétit. It consisted of everything I wanted: carbs, greens, a touch of cheese and a bit of lemon.
It took only thirty minutes to make, and I “spoiled” myself by poaching an egg to throw on top.
I was so glad that I did.
The runny yolk when mixed with the spaghetti just added another level of ah-mazing to the liquid from the braised greens.
If you’re cooking for yourself tonight, make this. The runny yolk alone will make you question why you thought you needed to be eating with company. Who needs company when you can eat by yourself in front of a mirror? And guess what? The leftovers are just as delicious reheated the next day.
Adapted from Molly Wizenberg‘s Column in Bon Appétit
Serves Two as a Main
Three tablespoons of olive oil (for braising)
One bunch of kale (about a pound)
One medium onion, diced (I love onion, if you only like it, use less)
Four to five cloves of garlic, thinly sliced (I love garlic, if you’re only on an “just friends” basis, use less)
One tablespoon of red pepper flake (I love heat…you get it, I know)
At least one cup of low sodium chicken broth/stock (you may need more if the kale gets dry over time)
One quarter of a box of whole wheat pasta (this is what I had left in my cupboard)
Salt (to add to water for boiling pasta)
Two teaspoons of lemon juice (start with one, taste the sauce, then move up to two if you need more acidity)
At least a 1/4 cup of pasta water
Grated parmesan cheese
One poached egg (optional)
A sharp knife
Large saute pan
Tongs or spatula
A salad spinner
Fill your large pot 3/4 of the way up with cold water. Salt the water generously. Put the pot on a burner, cover, and set to high.
While you wait for the water to boil, prep the rest of your ingredients.
Hold the stem of the kale, and pluck away the leaves in bite sized portions. If there are any leaves that are yellow, or discolored, toss them in the bin.
Wash the leaves and place in a salad spinner and give the kale a good couple of whirls. If you don’t have a salad spinner, that’s ok, just rinse the kale very well in a colander (kale can have bits of grit trapped within the leaves). The kale doesn’t need to be bone-dry when adding it to your saute pan, so don’t worry. In fact, I love the sound the drops of water on the leaves make, when it hits the hot oil in the pan. It’s strangely addictive.
Splash about 4 tablespoons of olive oil into your pan. Set your burner on medium. As your oil heats, dice your onion. When your oil starts to shimmer, it should be hot enough for you to throw your onion in. Sometimes, when I’m unsure, I like to take a piece of onion with my tongs and dip it into the oil. If it sizzles, or if (because you have your “greatness” playlist playing too loudly on your iHome in the background) you see bubbles start to form around the onion, then you know it’s hot enough.
Throw your onion in. Stir occasionally, and chop your garlic. When your onion becomes golden brown, throw in your garlic and red pepper flake. Stir until aromatic. About 30 seconds – 1 minute.
Throw in the kale. I do this in batches. I like to throw in a handful at a time, using my tongs to get the greens covered with the hot onions, garlic, and oil to help it wilt. When all the greens have been incorporated, slowly add the cup of chicken broth/stock. It should reach at least halfway up your greens.
Simmer until the the greens are no longer bitter, and are tender (almost sweet, but don’t worry, not that “gross, it tastes like someone added sugar to my veg,” sweet). Make sure to toss around the kale intermittently so that all the greens are evenly cooked. It should take about 30 minutes. Also, the stock should be reduced more than half. There is usually barely any left for me. However, cooking times vary. There have been times when I tasted the greens after thirty minutes, and it tasted great, yet there was still about a cup of stock left. I decided that it was just going to be a soupy dish. A soupy delicious dish. Which is great for the angel hair pasta that you’re about to add. More sauce = more yum. …Did that sound oddly Rachael Ray of me? Hopefully she doesn’t come after me…
While the kale is braising, hopefully your pot of water has come to a boil. At this point, I would start boiling the pasta once the kale has been braising for twenty minutes. Taste the kale, if it tastes as if it’s almost done (almost tender, not bitter), start cooking the pasta. As someone who will openly admit to never being able to time dishes together, it’s ok if the kale is no where near done. The pasta can always hang out in the colander and wait for your kale to cook through.
Add the angel hair pasta to the boiling water, and cook until tender but it still has a bit of substance when you bite into it. I know, my words are just so useful in describing things (as in not). When the pasta is done, add it to your braised kale. I like to add the pasta manually with my tongs. Because of this, pasta water is automatically added to the braised kale, thickening up the sauce a bit. If you do not have tongs, or the thought of zero control over the amount of salted pasta water going into your braised kale makes you want to self harm, just drain the pasta in a colander, making sure to reserve at least a 1/4 cup of the water. You can also drain the pasta if the kale isn’t ready yet.
If you elected to drain the pasta, add it to your kale when the greens have cooked through. Add two tablespoons of pasta water to the pan and the lemon juice. Add grated parmesan cheese. I usually grate about 1/3 of a cup. Toss everything together until combined. Taste. Does it need more acid? Add more lemon juice. Too much lemon? Try adding a bit more cheese and a little bit of pasta water.
Serve immediately, preferably with a poached egg on top, so you can swirl the runny yolk into the pasta.
*Edited to add, that I’ve liked this dish so much I made it last night! It was great with some perfectly-ripe off the vine tomatoes.