What’s so great about kale?

By / Food / November 15th, 2017 / 9

Can we all agree that not everything we cook must include kale? Although I’ve rarely met a vegetable I don’t like, this culinary darling has gotten just way too much attention lately. Yes, it’s chock-full of essential vitamins and minerals and has over 1000% more vitamin C than spinach, but can I be honest? The year bacon crested the wave was a much better year for me.

I’m always eager to follow the trends, so I have worked kale and ancient grains into my diet without completely letting go of my beloved bacon and cream. These are a few of the dishes I’ve made lately. Feel free to add kale to any one of them.

farro salad with cranberries

serves 4 as a side dish

I like farro for several reasons: it’s an ancient Italian grain, it’s easy to cook and it has a satisfying nutty crunch. This recipe is not a science. Toss in whatever you’d like, including kale. Farro comes as perlato and semi-perlato. The latter has more of the bran, but takes longer to cook.

1 cup perlato farro
2 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tbsp minced parsley
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

In a saucepan, add farro and water. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low.

Simmer, 30 minutes or until farro is tender and liquid has been absorbed. Salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to serving bowl. Mix in cranberries and parsley.

In a small bowl, whisk balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and Dijon mustard. Whisk in olive oil. Garnish salad with goat cheese.

Match: Enjoy with a French rosé.

manchego potatoes

serves 6

This is a delicious side dish for Easter dinner. Manchego cheese is my absolute favourite; it’s a firm cheese from La Mancha, Spain with a creamy buttery flavour. It’s easily identifiable by its tawny herringbone rind. Use a mandolin to slice the potatoes to the same thickness. Make this dish the night before as it must be refrigerated overnight to pull the starch from the potatoes.

2 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 lb baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
6 cups shredded Manchego cheese

Pour 1/2 cup cream in the bottom of a 9” x 13” baking dish. Arrange one layer of potato slices. Pour 1/2 cup cream and 1 cup cheese over potatoes. Season with salt and pepper.

Repeat, making four layers total. Top final layer with remaining cheese. Cover dish and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 375˚F.

Cover dish with foil and bake 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake 45 minutes longer. Remove from oven and let rest 30 minutes before serving.

Match: A Spanish Albariño is delicious with this dish.

cola-braised brisket

serves 4 to 6 with leftovers

I think of this as a cheater’s recipe because it’s so darn easy to make — no “from scratch” cooking here. But it’s also so good, I can’t get enough of it. It’s delicious served with mashed potatoes and a veggie (try kale!) and also great on kaiser rolls with a side of coleslaw. Refrigerating the dish overnight allows the fat from the sauce to congeal and rise to the top for easy removal, plus the brisket tastes better the next day.

3‒4 lb brisket
1 tbsp canola oil
1 packet dry onion soup mix
1 jar old-fashioned chili sauce
1 can cola

Preheat oven to 325˚F.

In Dutch oven, in hot oil, brown brisket on all sides. In a small bowl, mix dry soup mix, chili sauce and cola. Pour over brisket.

Braise, covered, for 3 to 4 hours. Store sauce and brisket in separate containers in the fridge overnight.

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Slice brisket. Remove fat from sauce and pour over meat. Cover and bake for 45 minutes or until heated through.

Match: Pair with a full-flavoured Merlot.

milich’s hot sauce sort-of jambalaya

serves 4 to 6

This is my failed attempt at trying to make a speedy jambalaya, but it tastes nothing like Jambalaya. It does, however, taste like a rice dish served at an Ohio restaurant called Milich’s. It specializes in Southern-fried chicken dinners, served with a mountain of fries and a side of rice curiously called “Hot Sauce.” This dish freezes well in small portions, which I nuke and eat when I need a quick fix of hot sauce. You can add kale if you’d like.

250 g smoked kielbasa or other smoked sausage, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 large can San Marzano tomatoes, chopped in the can with scissors
2 cups cooked rice
2 tsp Tabasco sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, in hot oil, sauté kielbasa 2 minutes.

Add onion, celery and red pepper. Sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add garlic. Sauté 1 minute.

Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally until shrimp, about 3 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes and rice. Cook about 5 minutes or until shrimp are cooked. Add Tabasco, and salt and pepper to taste.


Quench Food Editor, Nancy Johnson, minced, sliced, chopped, sautéed and sipped her way through George Brown College’s culinary program with a focus on food writing and wine. Nancy cooks by the code her Italian grandmother taught her: For the best results, always use the freshest, best ingredients. She writes for Ohio-based Wine Buzz Magazine and recently published a short story in Woman’s World Magazine. She is always on a diet.

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