Cray-cray for kale

It seems like everyone’s gone a little kale crazy. Kale smoothies, kale chips. But keeping it simple is the way to go, for two standout reasons. If you fiddle around with the best ingredients you run the risk of resenting them, they are sucking time from you! Second, the best ingredients need nothing much to deliver up their health properties and their tastiness. Respect that.

Kale is a hardy cabbage really, like the kind of cabbage you can imagine living wild. It is part of the brassica family so has relations who are cauliflowers and broccoli, but we eat the leaves and no real head forms in the middle. it’s an intense green, and has similarities to spinach and silver beet.

Here’s a way to serve it that’s respectful and simple:

Braised Kale

1 bunch kale, washed and roughly chopped

3 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, finely sliced

2 anchovy fillets

Pinch of chilli flakes

Salt and pepper

Grilled country style bread

Perhaps a poached egg on top?

 

Blanch the chopped kale until just tender, then drain and set aside.

Sauté garlic and chilli gently in olive oil.

Add the anchovy fillets and kale and season with a little salt and pepper.

Cook covered very gently until the kale is soft.

Serve on grilled sourdough, with a splash of extra oil.

 

Bring the rainbow

Simple food, prepared well outstrips flashy fluffing with a pile of fancy fare. And the simplest of all is the humble vegetable. VEDGE is a vegan restaurant in Philadelphia and what they do with vegetables would garner the envy of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, he of the ultimate veg-head Vertumnus.

Vegetables are beautiful.

Meat comes in two colours: blood and blah. Vegetables bring the rainbow. “Eat your greens,” mothers tell their issue, “Eat your oranges, your reds, your purples, your yellows, AND your greens!”

VEDGE is the baby of Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby who have captured their restaurant in a cookbook, also called VEDGE. “100 plates that redefine vegetable cooking,” they say.

The ideas are simple enough to be easily dismissed. But there’s an aftertaste that makes you linger longing for more. Look again at that roasted carrot, come closer and see what’s been done with those Brussels sprouts.

Dinner hosts shrink at the thought of a vegan coming to tea. “No eggs?!” “No cheese?!” “A single serving of nut loaf?” But VEDGE offers so many inspired ideas the whole table will soon be devouring vegetables.

Few people raise meat to eat in their own back yards. But vegetables are so do-able. There’s such variety there, not just in type but in specifics. Take tomatoes: cherry, roma, yellow, plum, bush, brandywine and beefsteak. All ready to go, cheap to grow and offering up a hundred different meals.

Embrace the vegetable, make it the hero on the plate, invite some veg heads to tea and show them your moves. If you get it right with the vege you may even find you have no room left for the meat.

 

 

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