As promised, here’s the first of what will hopefully be a series of health-, palate-, and planet-friendly recipes. For the most part, I don’t come up with these myself, but I do test and tweak them all.
Today’s hero: kale. I was under the impression that kale is a fall/winter vegetable, but it’s available in the supermarket now, and it’s delicious at any time of year. Food snobs agree that the dark green variety known as lacinato kale (or sometimes cavolo nero, or Tuscan kale, or dinosaur kale — it’s the kale of a thousand names) is the most righteously awesome form of the plant, but for this recipe you can swap in any green that can stand up to braising.
I borrowed this recipe from Orangette, who borrowed it from the Zuni Cafe. It serves four as a main course.
* 1 bunch kale (about half a pound)
* 5 Tbsp. olive oil
* 1 medium yellow onion, diced
* 1 carrot, thinly sliced into coins
* Pinch of red pepper flakes
* 2 garlic cloves, sliced, plus one whole clove for rubbing on the bread
* 4 thick slices of bread
* 4 eggs
* Parmigiano Reggiano (optional)
Remove any thick stems from the kale. This is the only potentially time-consuming step in the process, and my advice is not to sweat it too much. The stems taste fine, and as long as they’re not too thick, they’ll become tender during the braising process.
Stack the leaves and cut into 1/4-inch strips. Rinse them to remove any dirt.
In a medium pot, warm the oil and cook the onion over medium-low heat until soft. Add the red pepper flakes, garlic, carrot, and kale, and stir until the kale is wilted, about a minute. Add just enough water to cover the kale, and bring to a simmer. Cover, and simmer until the kale is tender, about 15-20 minutes. Salt to taste.
Toast one piece of bread per person. While the bread is still warm, rub one side with a cut piece of raw garlic (this is what heaven smells like). Place each slice of bread in a shallow bowl, and spoon the kale over. Pour some of the braising liquid in with the kale, so that the bread soaks it up. Top with an egg fried in olive oil, and sprinkle some grated cheese over the whole thing.
* For a vegan version of this, stew the kale with chickpeas and leave out the egg.
* For a decidedly un-vegan version of this, throw some torn up prosciutto over the dish at the end.
* Incidentally, I used duck eggs rather than chicken eggs, and I didn’t hear any complaints.