Everyone has been all a-twitter about kale these days, and after some prompting by some friends I finally took the plunge and picked up some up. I was a little skeptical about kale because my only experience with it thus far was using it as a garnish for molded jello when I worked wait staff at an old folks home in Pennsylvania. Believe me, it took me several years to get over the trauma of that particular gig. Luckily for me now, I can see the benefits of this tough leafy green.
They don’t carry kale at my local grocery store so I headed out to the Whole Foods in Brentwood to find it. I never went to Whole Foods in NYC because the lines were always insane, and this was my first trip to Whole Foods here in St. Louis. Whoever came up with the idea for Whole Foods is a genius: beautifully presented food with a wide variety of products equals big bucks. The best part is that Whole Foods makes you feel like you are a good person for paying out the wazoo for food. Don’t get me wrong, I get it. The food is awesome and is probably worth the additional cost. I guess I’m just a bit too cynical to shop at Whole Foods without having an attitude about it. And frankly all I’m doing is whining because I’m certainly not going to stop shopping there. They have Neat! Organic! Stuff!
Anyways, I found and bought some green kale and some purple kale to make as a side dish for dinner. Raw kale is very similar to a rubber scrub brush – it feels completely tough and inedible. Once you’ve cooked it though, this toughness translates into crisp freshness. I have to say, in general, I liked it a lot. I am often craving greens along with my dinner, but with all this cold weather, a lettuce salad doesn’t make me feel all warm inside. On the other hand, when I make something like sautéed spinach, it reduces down so much and I always feel like it just serves as vessel for the oil. Kale, on the other hand, is tough enough to maintain it’s color and shape. This crispness even when cooked makes it seem healthy, and apparently it is. The green kale was certainly prettier when cooked. The purple kale turned into kind of an ugly dark green when cooked rather than a vibrant purple like I hoped. Together they make for a nice contrast in presentation though, bright green and dark green together. I was unable to distinguish much of a taste difference between the two.
Based on the advise that I got on twitter, I gave it a rough chop (after realizing that I was too lazy to do a proper julienne), blanched it in boiling water for several minutes. I drained the kale and ran it under cold water, then stir-fried it with a little olive oil for a couple minutes more. I served it topped with sea salt along side an experimental beef and chorizo meatloaf. It was crunchy and delicious. There was some discussion on Twitter about kale being bitter, but I guess the blanching took care of that because I didn’t detect any bitterness at all. I’m going to add this to my side dish repertoire. I need to remember that I can make hot sides that are healthy. In addition to kale I’m also going to try to do more with broccoli, swiss chard and beet leaves (as suggested by @MoEats). If I eat more greens that means I can drink more whiskey, right?