Sunday, January 20, 2013

What Is It?

Bountiful Baskets have made their way to our area. Yesterday was the first delivery of the fruit and vegetable co-op. Due to a hectic schedule this month, I didn't participate, but did follow along with the group's Facebook page and know several people who received the boxes of fresh, healthy produce.

All seemed please with the quality and variety of the goods, but a question echoed for a couple items.

"What is it?"

One of the images I saw appeared to be red kale, and while I have only cooked with curly kale, I have found it to be very delicious. Kale has taken the food world by storm in recent years. Bloggers have shared countless recipes, and I heard that every notable restaurant in NewYork City has included this nutritious, leafy green in their menus. Kale has come a long way from just being a hearty garnish on the plate beside your steak.

Kale chips have been a popular snack for some time. Tossed with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, the leaves of the kale are roasted to a crisp and replace high fat potato chips as a snack. We have served the sturdier chips with dip and crumbled some as a salty seasoning over popcorn.

The other night, I adapted a Cooking Light recipe to include kale. I made Sausage and White Bean Soup with Kale using spicy chorizo sausage, but more mild kielbasa or even crumbled Italian or breakfast sausage would work. Chose a meat with seasonings that appeal to you, as it is what flavors the broth with the beans and greens. The soup comes together quickly and makes a simple, healthy weeknight supper paired with dinner rolls or a crusty multi-grain bread.

(adapted from Cooking Light)

2-4 ounces Spanish chorizo or kielbasa sausage, sliced (alternatively, Italian or breakfast sausage, crumbled)
1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
1 cup onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken stock
2 cans white beans (Cannellini, Northern, butter beans, or a combination of your choice), rinsed and drained
4 cups kale, chopped (remove the leaves from the tougher stems)
freshly ground black pepper
kosher salt

Heat a large soup pot over medium heat.
Add sausage to the pan and saute until starting to brown and cooked through.
Add olive oil, if needed, and the onion and garlic; cook until tender.
Add the broth to the pan.
Add the rinsed and drained beans to the soup and bring to a simmer.
Stir in kale; simmer a few more minutes until greens are tender.
Season with salt and pepper, to taste. (Serves 4.)

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