Friday, January 28, 2011
So like my husband and I started having a CSA (community supported agriculture) box delivered after a nice young man came by our house selling subscriptions to it. At first, it seemed I'd never get through all the produce in it -- some of it I didn't even recognize (Oh, so THAT'S a bok choy!) But over time it's widened my horizons and inspired me to try new things.
My husband was questioning the financial viability of the box ($25 a month for a fairly small box, but all organic and local) especially since every month, some of the less-familiar stuff would turn to slime in the depths of the fridge. He was advocating stopping the delivery, but I really liked the idea of supporting my local farmers, plus eating seasonally, so I decided to make a goal of using each and every item. Some were easy (absolutely GORGEOUS little fingerling potatoes, pretty little yams, bright orange carrots, lettuce, oranges, apples, lemons) But then there was this giant head of purplish-green cabbage. And bok choy. And kale. Every month, a huge, really beautiful Vegas-showgirl-headdress of kale. How the heck do I cook a headdress?!
First of all I learned the best way to store these veggies before I used them. Don't wash 'em until you're going to use 'em, cut the tops off the carrots (or the tops'll suck the moisture out of 'em), set the lettuce root-end-first into a small bowl of water...plus my husband's surprisingly-effective trick: put any item into a plastic supermarket bag and wrap up. We don't know why this works, but vegetables and fruit stored this way just stay good longer! We think it's 'cause there's ALWAYS a hole or two in the bottom of those bags, so the rot-producing gases can escape? Who knows (and I was skeptical at first) but it works!!!
Once I'd got 'em all stabilized, I looked online for recipes. I specifically looked for recipes that were easy; I'm an OK cook but not too experienced and I didn't want to psych myself out. First of all, the kale. Not only was it the thing I was least experienced with, it also took up A LOT of space in my fridge -- you try storing a headdress in YOUR fridge! So I went online and googled "easy kale recipe"; this is an amalgam of a bunch of 'em, customized to use what I had in my kitchen and to suit my tastes.
Wash kale and remove central stem; dry thoroughly with kitchen towels, or better yet, a salad spinner. (I think it's easiest to dump all the leaves in the sink and fill it with water, letting the leaves float while I rip out the stems. Kale can be pretty dirty, and if you let it float, it loosens the dirt that'll just sink to the bottom.)
Rip up kale into manageable pieces -- they don't need to be too small.
Put 2 tsp olive oil in a large, nonstick saucepan with a lid.
Chop up one clove of garlic.
Get out a couple teaspoons of balsamic vinegar and like a teaspoon of kosher salt.
Heat up the oil on medium-high heat til the oil runs like water when you tip the pan.
Put the ripped-up kale in the pan all at once and start moving it around with tongs. (I described this to my husband as "move it around like you're looking for something in it.") It will start to wilt pretty quick and take up less space.
Once it's pretty darn wilted, add in the garlic and salt and keep tossing for like another 30 secs. I don't put the garlic in right up front 'cause I find it gets overcooked and bitter in the hot oil .
Lower the heat to low, cover, and cook for like 6-10 more minutes, depending on how soft you like your greens, and how tough the greens are (different varieties are quicker cooking than others), poking at it a bit once in a while.
That's it -- it'll look like spinach, but if you don't like cooked spinach, never fear, cooked kale isn't slimy and I think has a better flavor. The balsamic vinegar is key here -- kale can be slightly bitter and the sweetness of the balsamic cuts and complements that. You don't use much, so get the best you can afford; it'll keep forever.
MIRACLE! It was really good! AND, miracle of miracles, my husband, who is of the opinion that the only good vegetable is a potato, or maybe corn, ACTUALLY LIKED IT!!! I mean, liked it enough to ask me to cook it again!!!
And now that I've got it down, join us next week to see what I do with the giant, mysterious, purpley-green head of cabbage currently staring malevolently at me from the rotter -- er, crisper.