Saturday, February 12, 2011

Stir-fried Kale

Cheap Eat Challenge: Watch or join us as our family of 6 learns to eat on $6/day.

Okay, so maybe you're asking, "Is stir-fried kale the type of thing a person really needs a recipe for?"

Answer: No.

Unless, of course, you've never thought of making something like that before before. Or you think it sounds barfalicious. In either case, you should very much think about making this because it is absolutely not barfalicious. It is so surprisingly good that you might even make a little tentative batch as a sort of experiment and then find it so amazing that you feel you must at that moment go back and make more. Not that I know this from experience of anything. Ah, greens. It's the type of thing a body starts to really crave in February.

I should mention, too, that despite the fact that this week I have now posted not once, but twice, on the mighty kale, I myself am fairly new to the vegetable. We had never really been introduced until a year and a half ago when a friend let me have the tail end of her CSA share. There at the farm were these bushels of vegetables I'd never used and sometimes never heard of before. It was great fun. And the great thing about kale is that it's a fall/winter vegetable that is super super hardy and nutritious. I tried it in soup, in colcannon, and in smoothies. And since then I've thrown it into various dishes here and there. But I'd never just cooked it as, like, it's own little vegetable deserving of it's own little vegetable spot on my plate (sorry, kale) until a few nights ago. It had honestly never occurred to me. Because, you see, even though kale looks like a sort of salad green, it's not good if you just toss it into your salad. It's actually a cole vegetable (in the same family as broccoli and cabbage) and it's generally too tough-ish to be eaten raw. It can also be a bit bitter, though generally at this colder time of year, it is not (it likes a little freeze to sweeten it up). Anyway, back to my story (what, you didn't think a person could tell a whole story about cooking kale; well, my friend, I've certainly proved you wrong now, haven't I?). The other night I was worn down from the care of my sick family. And I was craving some greens. But I didn't want a smoothie. So I just threw some olive oil (and a little coconut oil as an afterthought) in a pan with some salt and pepper and then shredded the leaves and tossed them in. I didn't trust the kale in such a simple manner so I put in a small dollop of my honey mustard dressing when it was about done, and my oh my, it was so so good. I ate it up. And then I went back and made more. Because it was that good. And also because it only took 3 minutes.

Dying to know even more about kale (because who wouldn't be, you know), have a look over here.

Would this be good over or mixed in with rice, couscous, or your hip grain of choice? Yes, it would. But it's good just on it's lonesome too. And it's cheap. And it's pretty.

Stir-fried Kale
Serves 4
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Cost: $.28
(kale: .25, other stuff: .03)

Note: I cut the large rib of the kale out and put it in my compost (because I am lazy, lazy I tell you). However, it's perfectly edible, so you can use it if you wish, but you'll want to give it a longer cook time, so separate it from the leaf, chop it, and throw it in the pan first for about 2 minutes before adding the leaves.

Note on dressing: I've tried this with and without dressing. It's very good both ways, though I feel you need more salt and pepper without it. This may also be good with Ranch, Caesar, or another dressing of your choice. I think it'd also be some kind of wonderful with coconut milk. Or a hard cheese. If you try it with something else, let me know how it turns out.

1-2 Tbsp olive or coconut oil (if it all dries up in the cooking process add a bit more)
4 large kale leaves, washed and shredded into 1-2 inch pieces
salt and pepper to taste
honey mustard dressing, optional

Heat oil on medium heat as you shred the kale leaves.

Toss the leaves in and stir them to coat with oil. Stir/toss about for about 1 minute. Then cover pan with a lid for 1-2 minutes to get them wiltier more quickly (you may want to reduce the heat when you do this or even remove the pan from the heat for a minute, so you don't burn your kale). When they're sort of wilty, but not like cafeteria spinach or anything, add the dressing if using. Stir to coat and give it another 30 seconds or so.

Sprinkle with more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve immediately. Once this stuff cools off, it loses all its charm.


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