Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spring Cleaning

Like most people, I cook by season. Winter sees me baking bread and braising meats, making long simmered soups and stews. Dishes that have my oven and stove top working for hours at a time, warming the house and filling it with the scents of yeast, of beef, of slow cooked chicken bones, onions and spices.

When spring makes it's painstakingly slow way to my corner of the woods in upstate New York, I want to throw open the windows and rejoice. Never mind that it's still cold and muddy. I want to push the stale winter air out and hear the song birds sing to find their loves. I want to scrub, clean and reorganize. I want to move the beds and vacuum up months of dust bunnies. Don't judge- you know you have them too. But most of all I want to cleanse myself from the inside out. I want to rid myself of the sugar, flour and butter that has composed far too much of my diet through the winter.

Spring greens will be coming to the market very soon but for now there is that most hardy of greens, the green that I once harvested from my backyard garden in late November...there is kale. I didn't grow up eating kale. I only discovered kale a few years ago. I don't remember if I saw it in the store and impulsively decided to buy it, or if I read a great recipe for it in a Deborah Madison cookbook, or if perhaps I saw it highlighted as an ingredient in one of my monthly food magazines. It no longer matters how I discovered it, it only matters that I love it. Kale has completely replaced spinach as my cooked green of choice. There are so many ways to cook it, so many recipes to add it to but my most favorite way to enjoy kale is sauteed with sundried tomatoes and garlic. The saltiness of the tomatoes and the sweet, nuttiness of the garlic are the perfect foils to this slightly bitter green.

Sauteed Kale

-One bunch of kale, washed and leaves pulled from the tough stems
-6-8 sundried tomatoes in oil, roughly chopped
-6 cloves of garlic, smashed and then sliced
-salt and red pepper flakes
-grated Parmesan (optional)
-lemon (optional)

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat with just enough oil to lightly coat the bottom. When the pan is hot, toss in the garlic and saute for a minute, watching closely so the garlic does not burn. Add the sundied tomatoes and the red pepper flakes. Add the kale and toss a couple of tablespoons of water over it and cover with a tight fitting lid. Steam the kale for two or three minutes. Remove the lid, sprinkle with coarse salt and use tongs to toss everything together.

Plate the kale with a lemon slice and top with freshly grated Parmesan.


  1. That looks fantastic, I love how all the lemony dishes are coming out now that spring is here!

  2. I share your love for both the coming of the spring and the tastiness of kale.

    I've only been eating it regularly for a little while though - I was literally inundated with the stuff from my CSA this winter.. in a good way!

  3. Kale... not sure I have ever seen this. It sounds and looks terrific!

  4. I share your chagrin at upstate NY "spring." I can't wait to get a real tomato or grape again. Heck with this winter veggie stuff.

  5. That looks wonderful! I always feel healthier when I'm eating greens and I need to mix some kale into the repertoire.