For a southern girl, I have never been much of a vegetable eater. I love purple hull peas and sweet corn, but honestly, a lot of other vegetables were in the eat-this-because-it's-good-for-you category. Even salads are usually just so-so in my book. (In a restaurant, given a choice between soup or salad for a starter, I always go for the soup.) I've tried to make up for it by eating a lot of fruit, but even natural sugar can get to be too much if you over-do it.
This year I've been really trying to cook (and eat) more vegetables, and to introduce some variety into our steady diet of purple hull peas/corn/mixed vegetables. I found out a couple of years ago that I love fresh asparagus, but it's a quite pricey around these parts. Although I've read that asparagus is difficult to grow in the deep south, I'm still hoping to find a variety that will work here and put in an asparagus bed.
Meanwhile, I tried brussels sprouts for the first time in my adult life, they've become a regular part of our veggie rotation. That success has inspired me to try another new-to-me vegetable, kale, one I never thought I'd ever try, much less buy, and it's become another roaring success.
This is not so much a recipe as it is a technique, because nothing is really measured, but this is our favorite version so far.
- Kosher salt or sea salt
- olive oil
- crushed red pepper flakes
Spread a generous amount of washed, dried, and chopped kale on a baking sheet.
I use pre-washed and chopped bags of kale from the produce section at Wal-mart. I try to pick through it and pull out the thick stem pieces as I go. I'm hoping to raise some kale in my garden this year, if you have whole kale, cut the thick center rib out and chop the rest coarsely. You need a lot, because this wilts down dramatically.
Drizzle with olive oil, probably a couple of tablespoons for this size pan (around 10 x 15, I think)
Sprinkle with coarse grained salt (not table salt--use Kosher salt or sea salt) and crushed red pepper flakes
Next-and I couldn't figure out how to take the picture while I did this--toss the kale until the olive oil and seasonings seem pretty well distributed throughout. I take a handful of swirl and flip and toss for a minute or so, until it seems to be pretty well mixed up.
And now the tricky part--put in a 375 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.
The tricky part is making sure the kale gets crispy and a little browned on the edges, but not not burnt. If you take it out too soon, it's wilted and slightly chewy, but not really crispy and not very tasty, either.
I set my timer on 10 minutes and go about my business. When the time goes off, I pull out the tray and give it a shake, maybe touch a piece or two and even taste one. Then I usually put it back in for another couple of minutes, but I stand beside the stove and watch it very carefully.
The trays in the pictures above are actually just a little browner than I usually go, I had raised my oven rack for something else I was cooking and I forgot to lower to back to the middle, so it cooked just a little bit faster than usual, but even if you think you've over done it, once they get crispy, the brown doesn't seem to affect the taste--burnt to black, now, that might!
We have eaten these yummy bits of green as a crispy accompaniment to a sandwich...
...and as a traditional vegetable side dish with a meal.
(In this picture they look "wet", but this is from a batch where I was particularly generous with the olive oil--they're just "shiny".)
Last night's batch was on the stove as I was making dinner, my son was standing there talking to me about his day at work, and between the two of us, we finished off the whole tray in a matter of a few minutes. I never thought I'd see the day that I'd need to slap back fingers from pinching the kale!
Until next time--good cooking, and good eating!
This post is linked to:
Meatless Monday at My Sweet and Savory
Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family
Meatless Monday at Littlest Sweet Pea
Wonderful Food Wednesday at Mom's Test Kitchen
Frugal Food Thursday at Frugal Follies