Friday, September 2, 2016

Kale: What Is It and How Do I Cook It?

You’ve probably seen kale at the salad bar—not necessarily in the salads but underneath the salads.  It’s practically indestructible and also cheap, with thick stems and strong, curly leaves. 

Kale is often a deep green, but it can also have some purple or blue streaks.  It’s sold in bunches in the fresh vegetable sections of most stores, and it holds up well in the fridge.  Avoid bunches that look dried out or have yellowish leaves.

For many years kale was an overlooked salad green, but recently it has become trendy.  I’m not a big fan of fresh kale in salads, unless it’s chopped very fine.  But I do like it in soups.  A little boiling softens kale right up, and unlike fresh spinach it does not disintegrate into almost nothing.  A few stalks, with their impressive stems removed and discarded and the leaves cut into 1-inch slices, make a good addition to this Meatball Soup recipe.

Meatball Soup
Meatball Soup – serves 4 as a main dish 
24 cooked turkey meatballs (see recipe here)   
6 ounces uncooked medium egg noodles (about 1 1/2 cups) 
1 bundle fresh kale 
1 14-ounce can chicken broth plus 1 can water or 1 1/2 tablespoons chicken broth
            concentrate plus 3 cups water 
1 tablespoon soy sauce 
1 teaspoon chopped garlic 
1 teaspoon fresh chopped ginger or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 
4 scallions, white and green parts cleaned and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces 
Prepare the meatballs and set aside. 
Cook the noodles in boiling water for 10 minutes (or however long the package says).  Lift them from the water with a slotted spoon, keeping the water boiling, and put them in a bowl. 
While the noodles are cooking, wash the kale and remove and discard as much of the thick central stems as possible.  Chop the leaves into thin strips (no more then 1/2-inch wide).  Add them to the boiling water.  Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the leaves soften and shrink somewhat.  Drain the kale and set aside. 
Combine the chicken broth, water, soy sauce, garlic and ginger in a large pot and begin heating over medium high heat.  When the mixture comes to a boil, add the meatballs, noodles, kale and scallions and cook for 5 minutes.  Serve immediately.
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