Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Roasted kale in foreground (man, I love the “macro” setting on my camera—you can see the individual grains of salt!), spicy roast chicken and tomatoes in background.

When we were studying abroad in England 10 years (ack!) ago, A and I discovered a new favorite appetizer at Chinese restaurants. Described simply as “crispy seaweed” on the menu, it was a huge pile of shredded green leaves, warm, salty, and, magically, crunchy (it was probably fried). The texture was brittle and paper-thin, melting in your mouth almost immediately. Like edamame, they were an incredibly addictive snack. I don’t know what possessed us to first order this dish—or maybe it arrived free on the table before our meal, like a bread basket?—but we were instantly hooked, ordering it every time we visited London’s Chinatown. It was on the menu of every restaurant we went to there, but we’ve never seen it again since returning to the U.S. We were starting to feel like maybe we just dreamed it, and then we had roasted kale.

Make this. It’s barely even a recipe at all. It doesn’t matter whether you like kale or not (we’re not sure whether we do yet). It’s one of the easiest, most amazing transformations you can achieve with just three ingredients and an oven. I found it floating around on the Internet when I was desperate for recipes to use up my CSA kale, and now I’m actually considering buying more kale at the farmers’ market just so we can have this again. After we cleaned our plates, A, who is eternally suspicious of leafy greens, even said wistfully, “I wish we had more kale.” Now that’s a testimonial.

Some recipes note that any firm, leafy green works fine in this recipe, so I might try substituting collards or Swiss chard if any of them cross my path.

1 bunch of kale
olive oil
coarse sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Wash the kale and trim it by stripping each half of the leaves away from the tough center stems.

3. Place leaves on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil to coat (I used about a tablespoon).

4. Spread leaves in a single layer and roast for 5 minutes. Turn the leaves over and roast another 5-10 minutes until kale begins to brown and is thin and brittle. Remove from oven and sprinkle generously with sea salt.

Serves 2


The cast of characters:

more chubby carrots
fresh rosemary
1 kabocha squash
2 turnips
1 head lettuce
½ bunch tatsoi
½ bunch kale
½ bunch arugula
½ bunch broccoli rabe

First, an update from last time: after baking and eating the red kuri squash, I decided I wasn’t that into it. I mean, it tasted fine; it tasted pretty much like…squash. But with a firmer, flakier texture than I like. It was fun to try it, and maybe it would benefit from different preparation, but I’ll just go back to my new favorite, delicata, thankyouverymuch.

Oh wait, but first I have to try the kabocha that’s sitting in my kitchen. I made an executive decision to wait until next week to eat it (and also the turnips), because (a) we’ve been eating an awful lot of squash lately, and (b) we’re currently too busy drowning in all these greens we’ve been given. Five kinds of greens, as you may notice, all (except the lettuce) still rather unfamiliar to us and all threatening to go wilty at any moment. Planning the menu last Friday and trying to include all these greens was a major challenge. Still, I do think I’ve acquitted myself admirably, if I do say so. On Saturday night we tackled the broccoli rabe, something I’d heard much about but never eaten before. There wasn’t enough of it to make a really broccoli-rabe-featuring recipe, so instead I used it to top some sausage sandwiches. Improvising loosely from a recipe I found online, I split two Italian chicken sausage links in half and pan-fried them until browned. Meanwhile, I blanched the broccoli rabe for a few minutes, plunged it into ice water to stop the cooking, and then sautéed it with a little olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. I split a loaf of ciabatta, brushed the cut halves with olive oil, baked them for a few minutes until crisp, topped them with thinly sliced fresh mozzarella and let it melt, then added the sausage and broccoli rabe and topped with the other half of the bread. The sandwiches were pretty tasty, and although I wasn’t always sure I could taste the broccoli rabe, occasionally a mustardy tang came through that complemented the sausage very well.

On Sunday night (and again with leftovers at lunchtime on Monday) we ate huge salads alongside our macaroni and cheese, dispatching all of the lettuce and most of the arugula. Last night, to accompany our chicken breasts (which were seasoned with some of the fresh rosemary), we attempted roasted kale, which was awesome (I’ll post the recipe with a photo later). Tomorrow, I’ll throw the tatsoi into some mini-meatball soup (into which the chubby carrots will also go). Thursday, we’ll try topping a pizza with the arugula pesto that’s still in my freezer. Besides the turnips and squash, that will just leave us with a little fresh arugula. If it survives until the weekend, I’d like to see how it tastes on BLTs. I guess this crazy winter greens overload isn’t so bad!