Kale is a versatile vegetable with a bonus boost

  • Tue Jan 31st, 2012 8:06pm

<b>FOOD FINDS | </b>Mina Williams Herald writer

Kale is one of those cold-season vegetables that bring a farm-fresh flavor to dishes served in the dark days of winter.

A most versatile vegetable, kale can be used in soups, pastas, salads and smoothies. Uncooked, it is a popular garnish. Delicious yes, but it is kale’s health benefits that unseats spinach.

Kale has been identified as one of the healthiest vegetables around providing a vitamin boost with few calories. Kale has also been identified as a cholesterol and cancer fighter when steamed.

“As for kale, I love to eat it first of all for its nutritional benefits,” says Chef Michael Felsenstein, of the Lynnwood Convention Center. “Kale is truly one of the healthiest foods to be found. Lacinato (sometimes called dino kale) kale is my favorite variety. It has a certain sweetness and earthiness that I love and is not as tough as the more commonly used curly kale.”

Pappardelle with Italian sausages and kale

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves, finely sliced

1 small onion, diced small

4 Italian sausages casing removed (or about 1 pound bulk)

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 teaspoons dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

¼ cup red wine

½ bunch kale (lacinato if available), leaves finely chopped

1 can diced tomato in puree (14-15 ounces)

Salt and pepper

12 ounces fresh pappardelle pasta

2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

3 ounces Parmesan, shaved

Instructions

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and render until browned. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon, add half of the garlic and onion and sweat over low heat for 2-3 minutes.

2. Stir in the pepper flakes, basil and oregano. Add the wine, and reduce until the liquid has mostly evaporated.

3. Add the tomato and simmer for 5 minutes, then add browned sausage back in and continue simmering for an additional 15-20 minutes over low heat.

4. Meanwhile, in another large frying pan, heat the remaining olive oil. Add the remaining onion and garlic and lightly brown over medium heat. Add kale and stir fry until kale turns bright green. You can add a little water to steam the kale. Add kale mixture to the tomatoes and sausages and mix well.

5. For the pasta, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook until al dente. Drain well, reserving some pasta water. You can use this water to adjust the thickness of the sauce. Add the pasta to the sauce, adding a ladleful of the pasta cooking water to loosen the consistency if necessary, and then stir in the Parmesan and parsley. Serve in warm pasta bowls.

Recipe courtesy of Chef Michael Felsenstein, of the Lynnwood Convention Center.