kale

kale with black olives, raw cashews and anchovy

kale with black olives, raw cashews and anchovy

Steven and I have been enjoying recipes from David Rocco’s new cookbook, Made in Italy. Many of them seem very simple to make and look tasty from pics in the book. The chickpea soup infused with rosemary Steven made the other day was yummy!

This recipe is supposed to be made with escarole, one of my favorite green leafy vegetables. Sadly I couldn’t find it at our Whole Foods the day I made this dish, so instead I ran to our community garden plot and harvested some organic Russian Kale as a replacement. This straightforward sauté is really flavorful and almost rich. This could be a very elegant upgrade to the traditional Thanksgiving feast green veggie side.

kale with black olives, raw cashews and anchovy

1 large bunch kale, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 Kalamata olives, halved
4 anchovy filets packed in oil, drained
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
small handful raw cashews

Steam kale leaves for about 5 to 8 minutes or until leaves become soft. Transfer to a colander and let fully drain.

Add half of the olive oil to a skillet, place it over burner, add anchovies and cook on low temperature until the fish dissolves. Anchovies have a pungent smell that shouldn’t put you off. That’s the whole point. Raise the temperature a bit, add garlic and sauté until aromatic. Fold in kale then add olives and cashews, cover and cook it for another minute or so, until warmed through. Transfer to a serving dish and drizzle with remaining olive oil. Serve as a side dish.

This is so good that I want to make it again soon, once I can find escarole in the market.

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squid and fennel kebabs

by Stevie on September 1, 2011

We just started taking La Cucina Italiana. Our first issue arrived this past week. The magazine is gorgeous! I can’t believe that we waited so long. This is the one with the cover story on grilling steak. ‘course, you all know that we’re pesce-veggie so don’t go for that. But Italian food, being so diverse, the pages were filled with lots of other exciting non-beef recipes. I am desperate to try making my own apricot liqueur, though it must wait until I’ve a chance to snag some ripe fruit. Instead, I jumped on the recipe called spiedini di seppie e finnocchi.

squid and fennel kebabs

squid and fennel kebabs

I’ve never poached squid before, which was really cool. And I’ve never grilled fennel, either. So this was a real novelty for me. I forgot about the arugula so used Tuscan kale instead, since we’re still blessed with so much of the stuff. Perhaps I should have followed the direction about brushing the skewers with olive oil more carefully. Instead, I sort of dumped it on. The excess oil dripped into the grill and set everything on fire for a while. Uh-oh!

This was good. The fennel cooked but remained a bit crisp. The squid was really flavorful. I served this with plain jasmine rice.

prepared skewers ready for the grill

prepared skewers ready for the grill

squid and fennel kebabs

1 lb cleaned squid bodies
¼ lb cleaned squid tentacles
1 ¾ cups dry white wine
1 onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 medium fennel bulbs, sliced into ¼ to 1/3 inch slices
¼ cup plus olive oil
2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
Large bunch Tuscan kale, large stems removed, sliced coarsely
Salt and black pepper
4 wooden skewers, soaked in water about half an hour

Cut about an inch thick slice of onion and place in medium saucepan. Add wine, garlic, rosemary, squid bodies and tentacles. Add water to submerge squid. Turn on high then lower to simmer. Remove squid bodies from liquid after two minutes simmering. Let tentacles cook six minutes longer. Drain and discard onion, garlic and rosemary.

Set grill on high.

To assemble kebabs, alternately put squid and fennel slices on four skewers. Liberally salt. Sprinkle with black pepper and parsley. Brush with olive oil. Grill about 7 to 10 minutes, turning occasionally.

Meanwhile, slice remaining onion. Place in a large skillet with 1 ¾ cups water. Cook on high heat until most of the water has evaporated. Add ¼ cup olive oil, salt, black pepper and kale. Sauté until tender.

Turn sautéed kale onto a large platter. Gently place kebabs on top. Enjoy.

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I made this tasty and healthy dish from germinated red lentils. Hegui sprouted them from dried a few days before. Inspired by all the fresh herbs in our community garden plot, I used a mix of chive, mint, Italian parsley, sage and lemon thyme. Any combination might do. The kale stems are sort of optional. They add a nice green color. And of course we have a huge abundance of them with the success of the kale right now. What do you do with your leftover kale stems?

germinated red lentil sprouts with fresh garden herbs

germinated red lentil sprouts with fresh garden herbs

This sauté reminds me of a warm salad. Fragrant from the herbs and nutty, the lentils are a bit crunchy, too.

germinated red lentil sprouts with fresh garden herbs

2 cups germinated red lentil sprouts
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 cup kale stems with some leaves, finely sliced
3 tbsp olive oil
½ cup dry white wine
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 to 2 tbsp fresh herbs: chive, mint, Italian parsley, sage, thyme

Heat olive oil in medium skillet. Add onion. Sauté on medium until onion becomes translucent. Add kale stems and garlic. Sauté a bit more then add white wine, cover pan and allow to steam. Add sprouted red lentil and fold vegetables together. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Cover and cook until lentils heat through. Mix in fresh herbs. Serve.

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dinosaur kale chips

by Stevie on June 14, 2011

We’ve an overabundance of kale right now, what with the unusual June rain we’ve been experiencing in the Bay Area. Our community garden plot has been thriving! That’s good: we’ve been harvesting it weekly and even giving some of the produce away. But it has created a confusing problem, too: what to do with all the kale? We never anticipated ever being this successful! A funny problem, indeed.

dinosaur kale chips

dinosaur kale chips

So I’ve been surfing the ‘net in search of kale recipes. Kale chips are everywhere in the digital-universe, though we’ve never had them. All you do is toss the fresh greens with some olive oil and salt—I added a pinch of cayenne for good measure, and roast them. Easy.

These looked and even tasted a bit like nori, the dried seaweed used for sushi, when they were done. That was a surprise. The chips had that oceanic flavor though also tasted intensely of kale. Mmmmm.

it is becoming a virtual kale jungle at our community garden plot

it is becoming a virtual kale jungle at our community garden plot

dinosaur kale chips*

1 bunch of dinosaur kale or similar greens, cleaned, large stems removed, cut into large bite-sized pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
Pinch cayenne

Pre-heat oven to 300F.

Toss kale with salt, olive oil and cayenne. Spread leaves on baking sheets covered with wax paper, being sure to keep them from touching as much as possible.

Roast for about 20 minutes until the edges look crisp.

Remove from oven and enjoy.

*I know that there are other names for this type of kale: Tuscan kale or Lacinato are two. I like the common name best, “dinosaur,” because it sounds so fierce.

fresh garden dinosaur kale

fresh garden dinosaur kale

fresh kale slathered in olive oil and ready for the oven

fresh kale slathered in olive oil and ready for the oven

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I found a small bag of wheat berries buried in my pantry during the ongoing kitchen remodel. (Ugh! When will there be running water!!!) It was forgotten there for a couple of months, maybe. I had seen a wheat berry salad at the Whole Foods and Bi-rite in the Mission. My original idea was to try to recreate one of these, but I never got around to it and forgot about the wheat berries.

pink wheat berry salad with kale and beets in tahini dressing

pink wheat berry salad with kale and beets in tahini dressing


After this culinary rediscovery, my mind got working on it again. There are some interesting recipes out there. Here’s one, and another and another.

Mine has a bit of an Asian influence. I saw this exciting recipe while perusing a bookstore in Berkeley, which I adapted to my taste and the ingredients available at home. Of course, I didn’t have a pen and it didn’t occur to me to call home with the name of the author/chef. I am terrible. I’ll try to find out and credit the author later.

Wheat berries are a little hard to cook: it took over an hour, and even after that they remained a bit chewy. I think that’s how they’re supposed to be? I tasted them every few minutes towards the end until it reached a point where they wouldn’t soften anymore.

They ended up chewy, as I’ve said, but also nutty and they sort of burst in your mouth with the first bite. I really enjoy the taste. Turns out they’re supposed to be good for you too.

It is an excellent side dish, but you can easily make it your whole meal.

pink wheat berry salad with kale and beets in tahini dressing

2½ cups cooked wheat berries
1 bunch kale, roughly chopped
4 small to medium red beets, thoroughly cleaned
For the dressing:
3 tbsp tahini
2tbsp water (or more)
2 tbsp shoyu
1tbsp ponzu sauce
3 tbsp rice bran molasses
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 garlic clove crushed
½ tsp vinegar

Preheat oven to 275F.

Wrap beets individually in tin foil. Place them on baking tray and roast for 90 minutes or so. Beets are ready when poked with a fork it offers no resistance. Let cool, peel and cut into small chunks.

Cook wheat berries as above. Once they’ve cooked, just drain, rinse and let cool to room temperature.

Steam kale until soft (steaming will preserve its flavor and natural ingredients), let it cool to room temp.

Add dressing ingredients to a bowl and whisk until incorporated. If too thick add a bit more of water. It should be somewhere between thick and runny. Adjust flavors. You are looking for that sweet, sour, smoky, nutty taste imparted by the combination of each of the individual ingredients.

Toss salad ingredients together and then the dressing. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
I had leftovers for lunch a couple of days later and it was still perfect: creamy and much pinker than that first day. Delicious!

{ 6 comments }

bulgur love

by Stevie on November 15, 2010

Recently Hegui went on a mini bulgur cooking frenzy, making mushroom and pink bean bulgur loaf and Brazilian style tabuli in a single afternoon. He over estimated the amount of bulgur needed so we had about two pints leftover. Well, I didn’t want to waste it and we all know that necessity is the mother of invention. So “bulgur love” is born.

bulgur love in hommage to the Summer of Love and modern hippies everywhere

bulgur love in hommage to the Summer of Love and modern hippies everywhere

Actually, I feel pretty confident that recipes similar to this are made everywhere. Here’s a nice example from Cookin’ Canuck. After all, I’ve really just added everything in the kitchen to the bulgur to make a flavorful, colorful and hopefully wholesome main dish, e.g a bulgur pilaf. I’m inspired by Hegui’s delicious and under appreciated, quinoa love.

Obviously, we’ve made up the names. They’re not very descriptive so I’d guess that search engines can’t figure them out too well. Our initial idea was that quinoa love was a vegetarian dish in homage to the Summer of Love in San Francisco, Flower Power and all that. Plus, cooking itself is an act of love. So what better way to honor a key ingredient then by surrounding it with a thrilling assortment of other, exciting, supporting cast members, all served up on a huge platter with metaphorical trumpets blaring? That’s the grandiose concept, anyway.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can mix and match almost all of the ingredients, perhaps even changing bulgur for another grain (maybe quinoa 😉 even.) I used a lot of stuff with intense flavors to make this vegan dish really pop. I hope that you enjoy it as much as we did.

downtown San Francisco at dusk

downtown San Francisco at dusk

bulgur love

2 pints coarse bulgur, pre-soaked for an hour and drained
1 container firm tofu
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 bunch kale, stems finely chopped and leaves, coarsely
2 cups black beans, drained
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 red jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, sliced thin
½ cucumber, sliced thin
12 stuffed green olives, cut in halves
¼ cup fresh mint, minced
¼ cup Italian parsley, minced
6 spring onions, chopped fine
1 medium onion, sliced thin
¼ cup sun dried tomatoes, minced
12 cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
lime juice to taste
extra virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste

Rinse tofu, cut into bite size rectangles and soak in a warm saltwater bath for about twenty minutes. This will add salt to the tofu and give it more flavor.

In a separate bowl, let cucumber slices soak in a saltwater bath. Hegui’s convinced that this step improves the flavor though I’m still doubtful about it.

While tofu soaks, heat some olive oil on medium and add garlic, kale stems and a dash of salt. Sauté until stems become tender. Add kale leaves and cook until they wilt a bit. Remove from heat and set aside.

Rinse tofu. Heat some olive oil in a small skillet on high. Add tofu and gently fry for a few minutes on each side until it browns slightly. Carefully remove to a dish and set aside.

In a large skillet, add sliced onion, red and jalapeño pepper, some salt and olive oil. Sauté until vegetables reduce and onion begins to caramelize (about five to eight minutes). Add black beans to onion and sauté together to warm through. Fold bulgur into cooked onion. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Drain and rinse cucumber. Add cucumber, olives, herbs, spring onion, tomatoes (dried and cherry), and kale to bulgur mixture. Fold everything together. Add lime juice, more olive oil and adjust salt. Pour into a large serving platter then place tofu rectangles on top. Serve and enjoy.

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This recipe was adapted from VegNews, a vegan magazine I got for free at the 26th Toronto vegetarian food fair Steven and I attended recently on a trip to Canada. It attracted my attention because it uses healthy ingredients that I happen to love: bulgur, black-eyed-peas and kale. It also requires a homemade spice mix which I enjoy preparing. Toasting, mixing, and grinding spices fill the house with magical aromas.

Mediterranean bulgur black-eyed-pea pilaf

Mediterranean bulgur black-eyed-pea pilaf

The original recipe calls for a coarser bulgur than I had. Since I didn’t want to go shopping for that special bulgur last minute, I made do with what was there. The dish tasted great though it didn’t turn out as fluffy as I expected. I’m sure that’s due to the bulgur. When you try this recipe use the coarser type. The VegNews recipe doesn’t call for toasting the spices, but I did as I think that toasting brings out the flavors. The spice blend is called baharat and many countries in the Mediterranean have their own version. This one is sort of Lebanese inspired.

Mediterranean bulgur black-eyed-pea pilaf

1 cup bulgur (preferably the coarser type)
1 cup warm water or vegetable broth
1 large white onion, cut into tiny cubes
1 bunch kale or collard greens, rinsed and chopped fine
½ bunch whole scallions, chopped into thin rounds
4 tbsp olive oil
3 sweet Nantes carrots, cubed
2 cups cooked black-eyed-peas
4 tsp baharat spice mix (see below)
Kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
A few squirts of lemon or lime juice
2 ears sweet corn, cooked and broken into small pieces
several Kalamata olives

baharat spice mix

1tbsp black pepper
1½ tbsp coriander seeds
1½ tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp fenugreek
5 cardamom pods
1 tbsp ground ginger

Soak bulgur in liquid for about a half hour.

Add all spices for baharat mix, except ginger, to a skillet and toast for a minute to bring out their aromas. Pour spices into a grinder and pulse until powdered. Add ground ginger and pulse again. Set aside.

Add 2 tbsp olive oil to a large pan. Add onion and cook until browned a bit. Add kale, carrot, scallion and sauté until kale has wilted. Add black-eyed peas, baharat mix and bulgur. Reduce heat to low and simmer for a few minutes to warm through. Adjust flavors by adding more baharat, salt and perhaps a bit more black pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with sweet corn and olives. Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Squeeze lemon over everything.

I served this with quibebe clássico or savory winter squash with garlic and olive oil.

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