OK, so it’s Thursday, aka Halloween + 96 hours. If you followed my prescription for the candy roll-out, your kids have consumed over of dozen Crunch/Mounds/Snickers bars, and you are likely checking in with DALS today to curse my name or to call up some magical recipe that might exorcise a sugar demon or two. I don’t blame you. Times like this call for either a Detox Soup or a big batch of something so healthy, so virtuous, so green, that it is capable of eliminating all traces of junk from little-person bodies, and all traces of guilt from big-person psyches. In other words, send in the kale!
Truth be told, I was terrified of kale until recently. Sure, I’d wilt it into minestrone every now and then, but I never figured out a way to introduce it to the family table in a way that didn’t feel like homework. Kale is so ridiculously good for us: Just a small mound of it has the same amount of calcium as a glass of milk, and I may be imagining this, but as soon as I eat it, and as soon as my kids eat it, I feel smarter and stronger and have a sudden urge to start an Olympics for Parents and enter myself in every event.
There are two recipes that convinced us that kale could be enjoyed as opposed to endured. The first was Andy’s: Kale with Avocado and Pickled Onions. It’s all about the parboiling here, which renders the leaves silky smooth and tender. Mixed with avocado and set off by the bright, flavorful onions…it was pretty much the only thing I could talk about at the dinner table that Sunday night. (This in spite of a combined 2 assists and 1 goal involving a breakaway only a few hours earlier.) The other recipe is for kale chips which I found in Kim O’Donnel’s fun new Meat Lovers Meatless Cookbook. It takes about as long to make these as it would to go to the pantry and open up a bag of potato chips. They are simultaneously delicate and crispy and melt in your mouth in a way that almost reminds me of cotton candy. Phoebe wouldn’t quite give me that one, but she ate up the chips anyway. And then begged me for Skittles.
Kale with Avocado and Pickled Onions
For onions: In a small saucepan bring the following to a boil: 1 cup water, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add 1/2 medium red onion (thinly sliced) and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove onions from pickling liquid with tongs and set aside in a bowl to cool. Meanwhile, remove stems and chop kale (I prefer Tuscan kale, but any will do) into strips, then boil (in water, not in pickling liquid!) for 2 minutes. Remove kale with tongs and add to the bowl with onions. (If you feel up to it, you can give the kale an ice-bath before you add to the bowl, to stop the cooking and preserve the deep rich color.) Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and 1 avocado, cut into chunks as shown in photo above.
Cut washed kale (trimmed of stems) into bite size pieces as shown. Toss with olive oil, salt (I used sea salt), red pepper flakes (optional) and spread flat on a baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 8 minutes. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.
Kale Chip recipe from The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook by Kim O’Donnel. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2010.