Kale can be a bit like Marmite, you either love it or you sit there gurning, gipping and looking generally like a toddler in a strop. It’s a real shame if you don’t like Kale however because it’s a bit of a wonder-food! High in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and reasonably rich in calcium, it’s also known for it’s anti-cancer and anti-diabetic properties thanks to it’s high sulforaphane content.
So it was a delight when a friend recently cooked Kale Krisps for the kids and they all wolfed them down. Searching for a recipe on the internet I was doubly-delighted to see this post from the wonderful Dolly Freed of Possum Living fame…
A while back, I was in a grocery store waiting for the manager to reveal the price of ginger root to me because heaven knows it wasn’t marked anywhere, when I noticed a women holding a bunch of kale also waiting to have the price of produce personally divulged to her. Feeling that we had a bond, I cozied up to her and asked how she intended to cook the kale, assuming that she would, indeed, be able to afford it.
I do this kind of thing regularly. When I see people in the grocery store buying something that looks interesting that I don’t know how to use, I ask them how they plan to cook it. I’ve never had anyone not cheerfully tell me. I’ve learned how to use chayote, exotic Asian produce, miso, tofu, jicama, and lots of other stuff this way.
I am familiar with kale and like it in all its forms–steamed, stir fried, soups, colcannon–and it’s easy to grow, but the rest of my family hates it. Maybe this lady would have a way to cook it that my family would like. And she did! It turns out she roasts it. I bought some, roasted it, and, lo, it was good. Everyone ate it!
Flushed with my success, I looked online, and sure enough, there were lots of roasted kale recipes. Some advocated cooking it quickly with a hot oven and some advocated cooking it slowly with a low oven, but the end results were the same; delicious, crunchy kale.
With the recipes that called for a hotter oven, I found it too easy to go from crispy to burnt within minutes while the low oven took forever. After some experimenting, here’s the version I developed for my family:
whole kale leaves (do not use old kale that has been sitting in your refrigerator for a week,
wilted kale, really huge kale, or kale that has a funny sulfur-like smell)
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Wash kale leaves and pat dry.
3. Cut out the main stem if it’s more than a 1/8” thick. (Do this by folding the leaf in half long ways with the dull side up and chopping off the white stem along the back.)
4. Coat leaves with olive oil. (I dip my fingers in a bowl of olive oil and rub it on the leaves. These aren’t low fat!)
5. Place oiled leaves on a cookie sheet and space them so they aren’t overlapping.
6. Bake for 5 min., then flip leaves over. Return to oven.
7. Cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. (How much longer to cook depends on the size and age of your leaves. You want them to be bright green but crispy. Dark green spots are OK, but you don’t want even light brown spots. Experiment until you get leaves that are very crunchy, like potato chips, but not burnt. You may need to take out the smaller leaves while the big ones continue to cook. )
8. Remove the leaves from the oven and let cool. Sprinkle with salt. Serve immediately.
(If you get a tough vein while munching, just nibble around it. For variety, I’ll sometimes sprinkle the leaves with garlic powder, fresh lemon juice, or vinegar. If you use lemon juice or vinegar, put it on right before you eat the leaf or it will get soft.)
Trimming the kale:
Oiling the kale:
The roasted kale:
Then last week, I saw a lady buy “baby bok choy” (which I think is actually a cultivar called pak choi). I know how to stir fry and braise it but I was curious what she was going to do with it. She was Chinese and used it in stir fries, chopped up in soups, and boiled with a light oyster sauce dressing; which reminded me that we were served the last dish frequently in China and loved it. So I bought a bunch and looked up the recipe. Here you go:
1 lb. of baby bok choy or similar green
1 Tablespoon of peanut oil (you can substitute olive oil)
½ teaspoon of minced garlic or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon of oyster sauce (available in the Asian section of the grocery store)
1 teaspoon of corn starch (optional)
¼ cup of water plus a pot of water
1. Put a large pot of water to boil on the stove.
2. Pull the baby bok choy leaves from the stem and wash.
3. When the pot comes to a boil, put in the greens. Let return to a boil and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. (You want the leaves to be bright green and just tender. They will continue to cook after you remove them from the water. If they are overcooked, they will get mushy and nasty tasting.)
4. Drain the greens and set aside. (If you think you’ve let them cook a little too long, drain them, return the leaves to the pot, fill it with cool water, and drain again.)
5. Wipe the pot, put it on medium, and add the peanut oil.
6. When the oil is warm, add the garlic or garlic powder and cook for a few seconds. (Don’t let it get brown.)
7. Add the oyster sauce and stir.
8. Blend the cornstarch with a ¼ cup water and add, stirring quickly. If not using corn starch, just add the water.
9. Bring to a gentle boil and stir until the sauce thickens.
10. Add the cooked greens to the sauce in the pot, toss to coat, and remove from the heat.
11. Serve with soy sauce.
I meant to get a picture of this dish when it was finished, but it got eaten too fast. You’ll have to settle for a picture of the greens getting washed.