Friday, July 30, 2010

The Power of Kale

Kale is wonderful for providing the strong flavors of a green leafy vegetable, with the sensation of muscle-building powers like that of Popeye's spinach.  And it can stand up to some serious heat, unlike wimpier spinach, which cooks down to nothing the moment you turn your back.  The SLO Farm had some lovely fresh kale on sale last week at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market.

One of my favorite ways to prepare kale is to couple its bitterness with some sweet caramelized onions, and a splash of sweet and sour balsamic vinegar.  A handful of raisins and some crunchy toasted almond slivers add additional sweetness and crunch to the dish.

First I chopped the kale leaves from the stems.

Then I soaked some golden raisins in boiling water to plump them up and toasted some almond slivers. Next I chopped and sauteed a small red onion in olive oil with some red pepper flakes.  When it was good and translucent, I added the kale and sauteed until it was starting to wilt.  I added the raisins and a splash of balsamic vinegar and cooked down to a syrup, then finished by tossing in the almonds.

For the rest of the meal, we broiled some salmon (topped with some springs of fresh fennel and slices lemon (in the toaster oven, to avoid turning on the oven on a hot day.  It cooked remarkably well).  This would be a great preparation or the delicious salmon fillets from The Salmon People, who now have a booth at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market.

For a grain, I planned to cook some red quinoa, but found only half a cup left in the package, so I added some white quinoa, which we dubbed "confetti quinoa" on the spot. The hearty, sweet and sour kale was a delicious complement to the rest of the meal.

Kale with raisins, almonds, and balsamic vinegar

1 bunch kale,  leaves chopped from tough part of stems
1 small red onion, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup golden raisins, soaked in boiling water and drained
1/4 cup almonds, toasted
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1. Sautee the onion until it is translucent and begins to caramelize.

2. Add kale, red pepper flakes, and salt to taste, and saute until the kale begins to wilt.

3. Add raisins and balsamic vinegar and cook down into a syrup.

4. Toss in the almonds and serve

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