Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Kale in a Spicy Sundried Tomato Broth

For this dish, I borrowed a little spiciness from Jamaica and some sweetness from the Mediterranean sun. This dish was darned tasty in the 10-15 minutes of preparation and cooking, but it was even better when re-heated and served for dinner the next day.

This dish is low in fat (almost non-existent), vegan (not just vegetarian) and ready in 10 minutes thanks to two prepared condiments stocked in my fridge -- mild jerk paste and sundried tomato puree. And thanks to kale as the main ingredient, it’s mind-blowingly healthy. But don’t worry, I wouldn’t bother mentioning it if it wasn’t delicious. Or as Michael described it (and he’s a Southern-bred greens connoisseur): “fantastic.”

I mention how much I love kale at least once a week. And today I’m excited to share with you a different presentation of the deep green leafy vegetable that provides more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost anything I can think of.

photo from Live Earth CSA Farm in California
Being from the South, greens are a staple on the table. Collards, mustards, turnips and kale turn up at ever major gathering from Sunday dinner, to holidays, to weddings and funerals. However, the typical boil-it-to-death approach of traditional Southern greens has gone out of vogue with the younger set, and greens have found themselves being used as wrappers for sausage stuffing, as parsley replacements in tabboulleh made with quinoa and collards (I’ll have to post that recipe eventually) and even quick sautéed with garlic and lemon juice (one of Michael’s favorites). And those are just some of my “nouveaux Southern” uses for greens.

Quick background on kale: it’s a leafy member of the Brassica family which includes cabbage, brussel sprouts and collard greens. Kale is one of those fantastic vegetables for new gardeners because the plants are very hearty, easy to grow and withstand frost.

It is considered one of the “winter greens” but is available year round in most markets -- even pre-washed and cut for those in a time crunch.

For in depth information and a detailed nutritional profile on kale visit The World’s Healthiest Foods website. For those taking certain medications or suppliments, or with thyroid problems or iron/calcium/vitamin K absorption issues due to prescription meds, you need to monitor your intake of vegetables such as kale, so please do your research accordingly.

Kale in a Spicy Sundried Tomato Broth

½ pound kale, washed, stemmed and roughly chopped
1 Tbsp mild jerk paste
3 Tbsp sundried tomatoes in oil, minced or pureed
3-4 cups water

Combine water, jerk paste and sundried tomatoes in a medium pot and bring to a boil. In batches, add the kale, adding more as the greens wilt down. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until desired doneness, at least 10 minutes or longer if you like more tender greens. This is delicious reheated and served the next day, once the flavors have had a chance to meld together.