Monday, November 28, 2011

Are You a Tender Green, or an Assertive Green?

I bought a lovely bunch of kale at the farmer's market on Saturday. Honestly, I'm not a huge kale fan, but the leaves looked so pretty, I couldn't resist. I seem to have a problem with compulsive purchasing at the farmer's market. Could be worse. I could be buying shoes. Or (ahem) cookbooks.

I had no plan for the kale, but figured Perfect Vegetables had to have a kale section. Turns out it has a "Greens" section, which it divides into "Tender Greens" and "Assertive Greens." Those distinctions made me laugh. All of a sudden, my kale had character.

I've always had the problem of too-tough kale. I'd come to the conclusion that it was supposed to be like that. The Master Recipe for Blanched Assertive Greens (pg 141) solves that problem by boiling the kale in a specific amount of water for a precise amount of time to tenderize it and remove any bitterness, before adding it to a larger recipe. They have several options, but I cooked Assertive Greens with Bacon and Onion (pg 142).

I've had the bacon/onion/kale flavor combo before, but this was far and away the best version I've ever had. The things that set it apart for me were the soft, spinach-like texture of the kale, and the splash of apple cider vinegar that gets thrown in at the end. Sometimes I feel guilty adding bacon to my vegetables (that goes for cream, too), but here, I only used one slice to crumble between the two servings, so I had no misgivings about it.

I could have eaten a much bigger portion of this. Unfortunately, the kale cooked down to what looked like a piddling amount when divided on two plates. I'll have to load up on my greens at next weekend's market.

Conclusion: Loved it. This wasn't just "good, for kale," which was the best I'd been hoping for. It was delicious, and is one of my new favorites. It's a little more work than I'm used to with kale, but well worth it. Without tasting it, Charlie pinched his little portion between two fingers and deposited it on the floor, his lips pulled back in disgust. Don't waste the good stuff, boy!
Will anyone mind if I lick Charlie's kale off the floor?
Because I had the ingredients for it, and because I hoped Charlie would eat it (wishful thinking), I also made the Master Recipe for Glazed Carrots (pg 61). I admit that I mis-read the instructions, and added the full amount of sugar in with the broth the carrots boiled in. I should have only put a third of the sugar in at that time, and added the rest after the liquid had nearly boiled away. I don't know if that accounts for how cloyingly sweet the carrots were, or if they would have been anyway. I suspect that I could cut the amount of sugar used here in half and be much happier with the result.

You know something is too sweet when an almost-two-year-old shudders after tasting it. For what it's worth, Charlie did nibble at one little carrot slice a few times, which is more carrot than I've ever gotten him to eat before, but each time, his face twisted as if he was sucking on a lemon. Actually, he loves lemons, because he's a little weirdo, so that doesn't hold up. You get the picture, though.

Conclusion: Just okay, but with the potential to move up in my ranking. I need to tinker with the sweetness.


  1. HA! Kale with character :) I like that! I've been really curious to try kale but I haven't found it in our supermarkets yet...

  2. The kale sounds delicious. Like a happy surprise, similar to well-prepared Brussels sprouts!

  3. Funny - the assertive greens title brings to mind a vision of angry vegetables on parade. I know - I'm wierd like that...
    Glad you found a "happy kale" recipe :-)

  4. Yum, I love kale, but I haven't seen it pop up in the markets yet this season. It does take a bit longer to cook, but it's so crazy good for you that it's worth it.