Hello, March. Your arrival means many things, not least of which is that I have utterly failed at my hope of posting weekly updates during my Month of Kale. While I can never go back and diligently document the journey as I go along, I can wrap it up with a nice big summary and tell you what I learned. So without further ado…
Here’s where I started at the beginning of the month:
I had an enormous bag of kale (2 pounds–that’s a lot of greens!), some liquid courage, and a burning desire to make friends with kale. Honestly, it seems like eons ago. That bag of kale (and the bottle of wine) are ancient history. But how did I get from there to here?
Let me break it down by the numbers:
- Pounds of kale that were purchased, cleaned, de-stemmed, and cooked* — 8
*Not all 8 pounds of kale have been consumed yet–I made enormous batches of a few soups, so some of the kale is hanging out in the freezer awaiting a lazy week where I don’t feel like cooking.
- Recipes calling for kale that I made — 4
- Recipes not involving kale where I added it anyway — 2
- New Kale Lover: Moi! — 1
What I learned
- First of all, and this should surprise no one who cooks with greens, kale cooks down like a mo-fo. Seriously—I’d fill a big ol’ pot up to the top with kale, stir it around to coat it with whatever goodness was all bubbly at the bottom, and within a few minutes it’s back down to near its original volume. Maybe this surprised me so much because, structurally, raw kale is springy and dense and unyielding—or at least it seemed that way to a woman who’s used to delicate little leaves of baby spinach.
- Second of all, and I think I mentioned this before, when cooked, kale becomes pleasantly chewy and surprisingly un-slimy (again, coming from a baby spinach lover). I’m a fan of the texture. A big fan.
- Third, I like kale better when it’s part of a stew. Of the six recipes I made this month, the one I liked least (but still liked) involved sautéing kale. In the rest of the recipes, kale was one of many ingredients in a soup, stew, or curry. Kale does very well when it’s one of the gang, just hanging out with some of its other vegetable buddies and adding some much-needed texture to the mix. (Note: A work friend, who happens to be pregnant and therefore mainlining greens per her doctor’s orders, said that she and her husband sauté kale with bacon fat. Apparently it’s fantastic, but since I don’t eat meat, I’ll have to leave that up to you to judge.)
- Fourth, I really like kale. Really, a whole lot, near-obsessively like kale. I figured this out when I started adding it to other recipes. See, I’ve always been more of a freestyle cook. I’ll see a recipe that looks interesting and then use it as inspiration while I do my own thing. Rarely do I follow a recipe from top to bottom as written. For most of the Month of Kale, I was following recipes to a T—probably in part because I was still unfamiliar with (and somewhat intimidated by) kale as an ingredient. But when I saw a recipe for an eggplant and lentil curry and decided I’d add in some kale just because, I knew I’d crossed the divide from dilettante to appreciator. Don’t get me wrong, I know still have a lot to learn about kale, but I’m in it for the long haul.
So there you have it—February 2012 was my Month of Kale, and it resulted in TRUE LOVE. What about you guys? Are you kale fans? Any favorite recipes or ways to prepare it? I’m always looking for new inspiration!