plate of cooked curly kale prepared by Chef Bob Perry
in a food lab kitchen at the University of Kentucky on
Jan. 7, 2016 in Lexington, Ky.
chill brings on a craving for food that is filling.
Nutritious greens fill that niche nicely. You can get your
vegetable fix from hardy winter varieties like collards,
mustard greens, spinach, Brussels sprouts and, yes, kale.
seems to be suffering from an overexposure backlash; a few
months ago, several food writers pronounced the kale trend
"done." But if you werenít eating it because it
was trendy, then who cares?
favorite ways to eat kale is chopped up in soup. A few years
ago I got a great, simple (and vegan) kale, potato and
chickpea soup recipe through my CSA at Elmwood Stock Farm
that has become a winter staple in my house. Saute onion,
garlic and diced carrots in a stockpot, add two cans of
chickpeas with their liquid, add in chopped kale, and a
third can of chickpeas pureed in a blender. You can spice it
up with cayenne if you like.
if youíre through with kale, there are so many other great
ways to enjoy greens, and there are usually lots available.
Bob Perry, who teaches at the University of Kentucky, said
his favorite green is "what Iím cooking that day. I
really like kale, I really like spinach."
cooks, "kale is really forgiving," Perry said.
"Itís hard to mess it up."
youíre working with lacinato "dinosaur" kale,
red Russian kale, or curly green kale, "the simplest
way possible to cook it is to clean it, tear it or shred it,
and sautť it really hot in more olive oil than you
think," Perry said. "Once it wilts down you can
hit it with a little stock and cover and steam and it, then
douse with a little vinegar, salt and pepper. If itís
tender, you donít have to braise it even."
green vegetable thatís easy to adjust for a variety of
palates is Brussels sprouts: halve them and roast in the
oven to caramelize and bring out the sweetness, or blanch in
salty water and saute, Perry said. Or butter blanch them:
split, blanch, then saute in water and butter in a covered
skillet. The steam finishes the cooking, then you can take
off the lid and let it evaporate to intensify the butter
flavor, Perry said.
can get by with a lot less butter and get the flavor without
a lot of fat," he said.
University of North Carolina Press Savor the South cookbook
by Thomas Head, called "Greens," is coming out in
March with lots of recipes for collard greens, which have a
tougher texture and stronger flavor than kale.
are often cooked with pork, boiled in liquid for a long time
and then seasoned with pepper vinegar at the table, Head
said. But there are lots of other ways to use them. Headís
recipes include: collard green empanadas, Lebanese collard
and lentil soup, and even vegetarian slow-cooker collard
greens seasoned with smoked paprika, stock and red pepper
are so versatile that you can do almost anything with them.
Head suggested a mustard green pesto in his book. Mustard
greens tend to have a sharp flavor while turnip greens are
milder but still peppery.
colleague Linda Blackford said her mother, Bettina, made a
wonderful spread by putting raw chopped mustard greens and
an onion in a food processor with a little salt and adding
spring, be sure to try beet greens.
whole beets and cut off the greens," said Perry.
"They cook down like spinach. They hold a sweet flavor.
You could do them in a stir fry or even put them in a
"Greens," a Savor the South cookbook by Thomas
Head from University of North Carolina Press.
pounds greens (collards, mustard greens, turnip greens, beet
greens, kale, or a combination)
pound ham hocks or other smoked meat (neck bones, smoked
turkey, etc.) or 6 strips thick-sliced bacon, cut into
or chicken stock
teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
chopped onion (optional)
garlic cloves, put through a press (optional)
tablespoons vinegar (optional)
out the thick, tough center stems of the greens and discard;
cut the leaves into roughly 2-inch-square pieces. Wash the
greens thoroughly in at least two changes of cold water.
Drain in a colander.
you are using the optional ingredients, combine the greens
and meat in a large pot and add enough water or chicken
stock to cover them. Bring to a boil and simmer until the
greens are tender (anywhere from 1/2 hour for young greens
to 1 hour for older collards).
using the onion and garlic, in a pan large enough to hold
the greens and water, sautť the bacon over medium heat
until the fat is rendered but the bacon is not yet crisp.
Add the onions and continue cooking until they are
translucent but not brown. Mash the garlic into the pan and
cook for about 30 seconds, being sure not to let the garlic
brown. Add the greens, the red pepper flakes, and enough
water to cover the vegetables. Bring the liquid to a boil,
reduce the heat, and simmer until the greens are tender.
Just before serving, stir in the vinegar and season with