Aunt Suzy says . . .

This recipe in Bon Appetit caught my eye for a number of reasons.  I love, love, love cooked bitter greens for one, as you know if you read this blog regularly!  I imagined that it would be delicious as it’s a cousin to another stew recipe we’ve posted with white beans and Swiss chard.  I’ve also been looking for things to do with the smoked paprika I have on the shelf, and I just ordered something called Pirate’s Bite, a combination of dried hot peppers, spices and salt (from The Spice and Tea Exchange).  Lastly, I’ve vowed to eat a vegetarian diet for a few of weeks after coming off a couple of months of rich food.  So this dish fit the bill in a number of ways!  And like the stew with chard, it is a snap to make.

2-3 bunches of mixed winter greens (collard, mustard or kale)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, small dice

2-4 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)

3 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes with juice (or one large)

2 cups liquid (water or vegetable stock)

2 14-ounce cans cooked cannellini or pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1/4-1/2 teaspoon of red chili flakes or 2-3 grinds of Pirate’s Bite (optional for heat)

Grated hard cheese for serving (such as Parmigiano, aged Manchego or Pecorino Romano), optional

Prepare the greens by washing thoroughly, removing the tough inner stems and coarsely chopping in 2-inch pieces.  I used a combination of all 3 greens – 1 bunch each – which added up to about 25 cups!  Don’t be alarmed by this amount since they cook down dramatically. Set aside.

Coat the bottom of a Dutch oven with the olive oil and heat to medium-high.  Add the onion and saute till soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute 1 minute more.  Add the smoked paprika and saute for about a minute.  Add the tomatoes, their juices and the liquid.  Stir in the greens a little at a time until wilted.  Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the greens are tender but not mushy.

Add the beans and chili flakes or Pirate’s Bite.  Add more liquid if you want a brothier stew.  Stir to blend and heat through.  Serve in bowls and pass the cheese.  (I thought this was delicious without the cheese, but try for yourself and decide.) Addendum Oct 9, 2011:  I’m busy stocking my freezer this year for the winter and think this is a good candidate.  I have frozen a couple of batches of this recipe without the beans, with the idea that I will add them when reheating.

Aunt Suzy says

I love the sometimes circuitous path to a new recipe, especially one that turns out to be a taste treat.  Our path to this kale dish was that our upstairs neighbors went on vacation this week and left us with a huge bag of young kale.   True confessions – I have never cooked regular kale, preferring over the years Lacinato (also called Dino or Tuscan) kale.  And this is for a self-professed lover of cooked greens.  So I went looking for a recipe and found this one.  Randy and I agreed that this could become one of our staples.  It was fast and full of flavor surprises.  We had leftovers from the Shrimp and Vegetable Tagine and the two made for a great meal!   The quantities in this recipe are guidelines, so please adjust to your taste!

1/3 cup dried currants

2-3 bunches regular kale (totaling about 1 pound)

1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, thickly sliced and cut into half-moons

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced in half

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, cover the dried currants with hot water.  Let stand at least 5 minutes, till softened, and then drain.

Wash the kale in a sink full of water.  Remove the center stems.  Place the leaves in a steamer and steam for 7-10 minutes, until tender.  The time can vary greatly depending on how old/young the kale is.  You might need to do this in two batches depending on how big of a steamer you have. 

Drain the kale in a colander.  When the kale is cool enough to handle, squeeze the liquid out by hand.  Shake to uncompress and then chop the kale into pieces, about 2×2 inches.   

In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat the olive oil and then add/melt the butter to bubbling.  Add the onion and cook over medium heat until pieces begin to brown a little, about 5 minutes.  Add the chicken broth and the cooked kale and stir to blend.  Cover and cook over moderate heat for about 3 minutes, stirring a few times, until the kale is hot and sizzling. 

Stir in the currants, olives, lemon zest and lemon juice and cook, stirring constantly, until heated through.  Salt and pepper to taste and serve.