Nothing makes me feel healthier than eating Kale. Is that weird? I think dark leafy greens are the ignored red headed step child in our society, and it is such a shame. I grew up with immigrant parents, (even if they were babies) and with grandparents who spoke longingly of the “old country”. We ate very well as kids, my maternal grandparents alone kept us stocked with homegrown vegetables for the entire summer, and preserves, wine and Christmas trees in the winter. Even with all of this, I seldom ate a dark leafy green. We had creamed spinach. That’s about it. We had cabbage a plenty, but no kale, no collards, and certainly no mustard greens. There may have been some Chard, but I do believe I shunned it. As an adult I have really tried to cultivate a love for these bitter nutritional powerhouses, but truthfully it has been a journey. Texture has always been my big stumbling block on the road to true love. For me, the best way to eat these greens in in soups and ragouts, where greens are transformed into these soft juicy delicious vegetables bursting with flavor.
Kale and White Bean Ragout
2 cups of cooked cannellini beans, or other white bean
1 TBS olive oil
1 leek, white parts only, diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 bunch of lacinato kale
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1 cup mushroom broth, or water
salt and pepper to taste
I cooked my beans in a slow cooker, I started with 1 cup dry and got about 3 cups cooked. (I used a cup for another recipe.) You can use a can of white beans as well, or two. Depending on how many beans you want in your ragout. I love using a slow cooker to make beans, it is so easy. I soak them overnight and then drain in the morning. Then I cover the beans with lots of water, drop in a bay leaf or two, and turn the slow cooker to high. They are done in 3-4 hours. So easy and very cost effective. If you make extra you can freeze them.
For this recipe I used lacinato kale. This is the one that looks like dinosaur skin, and it is sometimes known as dino kale. If you can’t find it you can use the other curly kale. I just like the texture of lacinato better. Wash the kale and then remove the stem. I do this by folding it in half and ripping the stem out. You can also use a knife. Roll the kale leaves like a cigar and chiffonnade it. As you would basil. This gives you a nice thin strip. I then run my knife over it a bit to cut the pieces in bite sized portions.
Saute the leek in olive oil until it is translucent on medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for a minute. Add the beans and the oregano and thyme. Pour in a cup of mushroom broth or water. I just happen to have a box of mushroom broth that needed a purpose. The flavor is really nice, but you can saute a few mushrooms with the leek if you would rather, or omit it completely. Add the chopped tomatoes with their juices. You want the liquid to just cover the beans. If your beans are not covered add more broth or water. Add the chopped kale and cover for 10 minutes, you want the kale to be wilted and soft.
Serve with a crusty bread, or just eat it alone. It is light and nourishing, and jam packed with nutrients you didn’t even know you needed.
A votre santé!