For Those Drowning in a Sea of Potatoes and Kale, a Life Vest
These are trying times for even the most committed locavore. The dizzying array of fall’s produce has long since departed from Farmer’s markets and CSA baskets alike, and the promise of spring’s first asparagus and ramps is still weeks away. All that’s left to tide us over is the same bleak assortment of potatoes and hardy winter kale, week after week…after week.
How many baked and roasted potatoes can one person endure? (OK. That’s a dumb question. I can endure a lot of them, as a matter of fact. But I probably shouldn’t.) And coarse, curly kale can be a tough sell even for a nutritionist who is fully convinced that it’s among one of the healthiest foods one could possibly eat. What I needed was some inspiration to approach this albeit narrow seasonal bounty of potatoes and kale with a fresh pair of eyes.
Kale and Potatoes, Three Ways
The first idea that popped into my head was a recipe for Portuguese Kale & Potato Soup I encountered years ago in a cooking class I took with my then-boyfriend, now-babydaddy. Digging up the old recipe, I realized it was incredibly labor-intensive. So I poked around a bit and found this simplified version of the classic recipe from Rachael Ray, which seemed to lend itself to some easy swaps to meet the needs of my vegetarianally-inclined, gluten-averse public. To vegetarianize it, swap out the chicken stock for veggie stock, and replace the chorizo with a vegetarian substitute, such as Field Roast Mexican Chipotle sausage. **Note that Field Roast meat substitutes, while quite convincing meat substitutes from a taste perspective, are completely wheat gluten-based, so if you’re on a gluten-free diet, this is not a swap for you!** If you can eat soy, Trader Joe’s makes a gluten-free Soy Chorizo which, while I have not tasted it personally, gets very high marks from the foodie snobs on Chowhound, so should be worth a try. Similarly, Frieda’s makes a gluten-free vegetarian chorizo called Soyrizo, which I like on principle since its name is a portmanteau word. Like sausage itself, these vegetarian sausage substitutes are quite high in sodium, so try to use a low-sodium soup stock to compensate at the very least.
Focusing more on what to do with all of these potatoes, I thought of the Spanish Tortilla; essentially, a potato and egg frittata often served sliced as tapas. Given the forgiving and flexible nature of a frittata, however, I wondered if I couldn’t slip some well-tamed kale into the mix. Sure enough, a quick search unearthed this delightfully simple recipe for Kale and Potato Spanish Tortilla from an old issue of Gourmet magazine, may it rest in peace.
In keeping with the breakfast theme, what about this lovely Potato and Kale Hash to serve alongside some scrambled eggs for Sunday brunch? I love that it tames the kale in the microwave rather than requiring you to blanch it (the less labor-intensive, the better), but of course you still need to boil the potatoes…
The Case for Kale
Kale, like its flatter cruciferous cousin Collard Greens, scores a perfect score of 1,000 on the ANDI nutritional index, meaning it features among the highest amount of nutrients you could get for the lowest number of calories. The similarities don’t end there: like collards, 1 cup of cooked kale contains a full day’s supply of Vitamin A and about 10% of the daily value for calcium.
Many of these so-called “cooking greens” (kale, collards and mustard greens) can be somewhat tough and bitter if not properly ‘tamed’ by the cooking process down to a softer texture with a pleasant “bite.” Usually, recipes call for sauteeing (usually with an acid, like lemon juice or vinegar), braising or blanching; either way, don’t worry about whether these latter cooking processes will detract from kale’s nutritional value. Vitamin A is fat-soluble, not water-soluble, so it will hold tight even when cooked in water or another liquid. And when sauteeing in some oil or other fat, the kale isn’t cooked long enough or at high enough temperatures to destroy a nutritionally significant amount of the vitamin. Which is a good thing, because if you’re virtuous enough to be eating kale to begin with, you shouldn’t have to be subjected to eating it raw (apologies to my raw foodist friends; the raw stuff just isn’t my cup of tea!)Did you like this? If so, please bookmark it, RSS feed.