Creamed Kale

I was introduced to kale three years ago by my brother.  He was pulling it out of his garden by the laundry basket full, and he gave some to me to try.  I immediately made some kale chips with it, which I loved.  My family, though, was somewhat divided on that endeavor.  He then told me about creaming the kale.  When we got off the phone, I made some right then while his directions were fresh in my mind.  I ate almost all of it by myself, remembering to share some with the kids before it had been completely devoured.  They liked it, too.  This recipe is fairly versatile, so feel free to leave yourself some wiggle room.

Two-ish pounds of kale, center stalks removed and washed
4 T. butter or 1/4 c. bacon grease or 1/4 c. cooking oil of your choice
1 c. heavy cream or 1 c. half-and-half or 1/2 c. milk plus 1/2 c. sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
nutmeg and/or cayenne pepper to taste, if desired
parmesan cheese, if desire

If you want to soften the kale (which can be kind of tough), you can blanch the kale and then put it in an ice bath and drain well.  If you want to skip this step, that’s fine.  I usually do, but the tougher texture doesn’t bother me.  Whatever you decide, cut the kale into strips.

In large skillet, melt butter, grease or oil over medium heat.  Add kale and stir-fry until kale is wilted.

Stir in dairy of choice and turn heat to low.  Cook for about five minutes, or until cream has reduced somewhat and thickened.

Add seasonings to taste.

Stir in parmesan cheese, if desired.

Kale Chips

kale

This is my redhead’s favorite way to eat kale.  Not only are these chips super tasty eaten out-of-hand, but they’re also pretty yummy sprinkled over potato soup or corn chowder.  Good and good for you!

Wash and dry kale leaves, tearing them into manageable pieces.

Rub each leaf with a little bit of cooking oil.

Sprinkle with salt and a little bit of pepper.  (Cayenne pepper’s good on them.)

Spread into a single layer on a baking sheet.

Bake in hot oven (425 or so) until leaves look dry.  This will only take probably 5-8 minutes.  I watch them very carefully.  I know they’re done when I touch the edge of a leaf and it feels dry and brittle.

I have a friend who bakes them at a much lower temperature for a much longer period of time.  Do whatever works best for you.

Creamy Penne with Swiss Chard, Spinach or Kale

This is both delightful and versatile.

16-oz. pkg. penne pasta, uncooked
1 bunch Swiss chard, trimmed and sliced (or spinach or kale)
1 T. butter
2 onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ t. red pepper flakes
1/8 t. nutmeg
1 c. ricotta cheese
1/3 c. vegetable
¼ t. salt
½ c. oil- packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced

Cook pasta according to package directions; add Swiss chard 2 minutes before end of cooking time. Drain; set aside.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat; add onion, garlic, pepper flakes and nutmeg. Heat until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. In a blender, puree ricotta with broth and salt until smooth.

In a serving bowl, combine ricotta mixture with onion mixture, tomatoes and pasta mixture; toss to coat.

Serves 6.

Tina’s Kale Salad

This refreshing salad was part of the spread at a family reunion on my husband’s side last year.  I had not previously been a big fan of raw kale, but this experience converted me.  I then proceeded to coerce various family members to give it a shot, and they ended up enjoying it as well.  Thank you to Dave’s cousin, Tina, for sharing it with us!

You could always use fresh spinach, Swiss chard or even leaf lettuce for this, too.

Fresh kale, torn into bite-size pieces

½ cup dried cranberries

½ cup toasted walnuts

Fresh orange sections, cut to bit-size pieces

The dressing: Mix all of the following and allow to “set” on the kale before serving.

¼ cup olive oil

Orange zest

2 T fresh orange juice

1 ½ T lemon juice

Sea salt

Pepper

Note from Tina:  I like to add a couple teaspoons of white balsamic vinegar to the dressing and add orange-soaked raisins.  I also like to use organic Valencia oranges.

Freezing Spring Produce on Indy Style

This is a segment from an Indianapolis-based talk show in which I demonstrated how to take advantage of local spring produce.

http://wishtv.com/2015/05/26/save-money-and-time-with-seasonal-eating/

When produce is at its peak in freshness and nutrition, it is a cost-effective time to acquire bulk amounts to preserve for enjoying year-round.  While many people are hesitant to jump into canning, most spring produce can be preserved easily by freezing.  For leafy greens like kale, spinach and Swiss chard, remove any woody stems, wash well, blanch in boiling water for a minute or two, then remove greens to an ice water bath.  When cool, place in a colander to drain.  After draining, put greens into a freezer container, being sure to label with contents and date.  These greens can easily be used in soups, lasagnas, smoothies or creamed in au gratin-type dishes  Asparagus uses the same freezing method, though it is helpful to spin or towel-dry the spears a bit before freezing.  This last step will keep quiches from getting soggy when using the asparagus after being frozen.  Strawberries can be washed, topped, sliced and frozen in portions that are conducive to making pies, smoothies or jams.  Rhubarb is also easy to freeze.  Just wash, dice and put in a freezer container in desired amounts for use in Victoria sauce, breads, jams or crisps.  Eating regional, in-season produce is a great way to save money, take in higher nutrition and support your local community.

Zuppa Toscana

toscanosoup

My husband really liked this soup when he had it at Olive Garden a few years ago, but I never really gave a thought to making it…until my friend, Rosemary, shared it with us for supper one night. It’s super easy, relatively inexpensive, very flexible and quite tasty. Here’s how I made mine, but you can find all kinds of recipes online if you want a more true-to-Olive-Garden version.

1 lb. hot sausage (or regular sausage if you prefer)

1 onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

Brown sausage with onion and pepper until cooked through.

Add:

2 qts. chicken or turkey stock

2 cloves garlic, minced

3-4 potatoes, cubed

Simmer about 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Season with salt & pepper until you’ve got it the way you like it.

Add:

4 c. chopped Swiss chard, spinach or kale.

Cook until greens are softened.