Saturday, May 9, 2009

Kale-- delicious, forgotten greens

So when I moved to Houston I decided I wanted to try to support the farmer's markets in the area. Unlike, Baton Rouge, Houston has a lot of farmer's markets, but I have yet to be as impressed with them I am of the Red Stick Farmer's Market. It may be that the red stick market was so close and so full of people and vitality. Zydeco music in the background and old farmers selling traditional Louisiana fare such as file, pecans, greens, Louisiana satsumas, strawberries, blueberries, and fresh gulf shrimp. I just loved the produce. So I assumed the produce in Houston would be similiar-- but it has its differences. More focused on peppers and salsas, texas citrus and grass-fed beef. Even with the close proximity to the gulf there is an amazingly high degree of disengagement from the fresh gulf coast culture and seafood. So after my disappointment with the farmers markets I looking into other ways to participate in the local produce.

So I discovered the Central City Co-op. This co-op is great. It is a local, organic co-op ( I won't go into the details, but you can purchase weekly co-op shares (I got a small) and pick up the shares on wednesday. The first (and only so far) share I have picked up contained 3 potatoes, 1 onion, 2 apples, parsley, 1 cucumber, lettuce, carrots, and last but not least- kale.

Now I am pretty unfamiliar with Kale. In fact, I don't think I had ever cooked it before. So immediately Matt and I looked for a recipe, excited about adding another green to our diet. Kale is in the Brassica family (includes cabbage, brussels sprouts,and collards) and is rich in vitamins (such as A, C and K) and minerals. It is a dark beautiful green color and has a sweet, savory flavor.

So, in short Matt and I (mostly Matt) modified a recipe found on Fettuccine with sausage and Kale.

Ingredients included:
* 3 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 lb hot turkey or pork sausage, casings discarded and sausage crumbled
* 1/2 lb kale, tough stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
* 1/2 lb dried egg fettuccine
* 2/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
* 1 oz finely grated Pecorino Romano (1/2 cup) plus additional for serving

Our modified or added ingredients include:
* mushrooms, sliced
* pepper (I used a sweet carmen pepper from my garden, but an orange or red pepper would add both color and flavor)
* shallot or small white onion, chopped
* 2-4 tablespoons of tomato sauce
* red pepper flakes for flavor
* instead of chicken broth we just used the water used to blanch the kale and cook the noodles in. The noodles we liked in particular are these all Amish Naturals garlic parsley noodles.

We followed the remaining steps as followed:

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook sausage, breaking up any lumps with a spoon, until browned, 5 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, blanch kale in a 6-quart pot of boiling salted water (I didn't salt the water) , uncovered, 5 minutes. Remove kale with a large sieve and drain. Return cooking water in pot to a boil, then cook pasta in boiling water, uncovered, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta in a colander.

While pasta cooks, saute onions, pepper, and mushrooms in skillet that sausage was cooked in. Then add kale and sausage to skillet and sauté, stirring frequently, until just tender, about 5 minutes.
Add tomato sauce and boiling water that was set aside. Eventually combine pasta and any additional reserved cooking water to skillet, tossing until combined.

Serve and sprinkle cheese on top.

The meal is delicious and healthy and is now on my permanent list of recipes. This could also be cooked without the sausage and be just as flavorful!

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