Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables available and packs the most nutrients for only 36 calories per cup. It’s also super delicious and can be substituted in place of spinach in many dishes. Here are two recipes from the Book of Kale that we’re sure you’ll love.
My friend Wendy MacDonald consulted with her Japanese sewing class friends to learn just exactly what is in gomae dressing. Lo and behold, there are only three ingredients. This is just like the dish you would be served in a Japanese restaurant—but made with kale instead of spinach.
Note: A suribachi is a low ceramic grinding bowl etched with grooves that comes with a wooden implement called a surikogi. It has a rounded end, and is very useful for grinding spices and other things like ginger and garlic for curry paste.
4 Tbsp (60 mL) sesame seeds
1 Tbsp (15 mL) mirin
1 Tbsp (15 mL) light Japanese soy sauce or regular tamari
4 cups (1 L) tightly packed young kale leaves
1. Toast sesame seeds by shaking them in a small cast-iron or other heavy-bottomed pan over medium-low heat. It won’t take long so don’t leave the stove; keep shaking until the seeds become lightly fragrant and slightly darkened, but not browned.
2. In a suribachi or mortar and pestle (or food processor, but the suribachi is much groovier!), grind the toasted sesame seeds, mirin and soy until a kind of thin paste results.
3. Lightly steam the kale for about 1 minute in very little water. Drain thoroughly, squeezing all the liquid out. On each small plate, place one-quarter of the kale leaves, squeezed together tightly into the traditional boxy gomae shape, or make little mounds. Drizzle the dressing on the kale with a little extra around the plate, and eat your Kale Gomae with chopsticks.
Kale and goats with bows
Not goats, but goat’s cheese. Just trying to keep you awake! Any variety of kale is fine in this easy pasta dish—everything is cooked in one pot. Feel free to use mature leaves as they’ll be whirled with goat cheese to create a strikingly green pesto that melts into the hot pasta. If you have calendula in your garden, be sure to garnish the pasta with some edible orange petals—nasturtiums work too.
6 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 or 3 small shallots, peeled
8 cups (2 L) kale leaves, packed
12 oz (about 350 gr) dried farfalle (bowtie pasta)
8 oz (225 gr) soft goat’s cheese, plus extra for topping
3 Tbsp (45 mL) pine nuts
Salt and black pepper
3 Tbsp (45 mL) lemon juice
½ cup (125 mL) extra virgin olive oil
Fresh thyme leaves (optional)
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the garlic and shallots and boil gently for 4 minutes. Add kale leaves and continue to boil for another minute. Watch the pot—you want the kale to remain bright green.
2. Using a slotted spoon, remove kale to a colander. Scoop out the garlic and shallots and transfer them to the bowl of a food processor. Leave pot with water at a boil. Drop pasta into the boiling water.
3. While pasta is cooking, squeeze excess moisture from kale. Add to food processor along with the cheese, pine nuts, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Process while adding olive oil slowly, until mixture is creamy. Let pesto mixture stand until pasta is cooked to the desired texture.
4. Drain pasta well and combine with pureed mixture. Before serving, sprinkle with extra goat’s cheese and fresh thyme leaves if you have them.
Serves 4 as a main course.