Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tuscan Kale with Maple, Ginger, and Pancetta

Kale is sneakily becoming one of my favorite vegetables. I love it prepared almost any way, from crispy roasted kale chips to tender sauteed kale, but my husband isn't quite the enthusiast that I am. Because I want him to love it as much as I do, I turned to one of my favorite cookbooks, Fast, Fresh, and Green by Susie Middleton, for help. I've never eaten a single thing from her cookbook I haven't adored, and she scores another home run with this recipe. It doesn't take a culinary mastermind to figure out that adding bacon or pancetta makes almost anything more delicious, but her deft hand with flavors expertly balances the fatty, salty pancetta with fresh ginger and sweet maple syrup without burying the flavor of the kale. The true sign of success was my husband saying that this is his favorite way he's ever had kale, so I know this recipe will remained bookmarked for a return visit. If you're trying to introduce yourself or someone else to hearty greens, start with this simple, flavorful recipe - if you don't like kale prepared this way, you probably never will.

Tuscan Kale with Maple, Ginger, and Pancetta
adapted from Fast, Fresh, and Green by Susie Middleton
serves 2

Kosher salt
1 bunch (8 to 9 oz) Tuscan Kale (a.k.a. cavalo nero or black kale)
1 oz very thinly sliced pancetta (3 or 4 slices) or bacon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
2 small lemon wedges

1. Fill a wine 4- to 5-qt pot 2/3 full of water. Add 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Remove the ribs from the kale. Grab the rib with one hand and rip the two leafy sides away from it with the other. Cut or rip the leaves into two or three smaller pieces. You'll have about 4 oz of greens. Add the greens to the boiling water and start timing immediately. Taste a leaf after 4 minutes. It shouldn't be tough or rubbery. If it is, cook for 1 to 2 minutes more. Drain the kale very thoroughly in a strainer in the sink. Press down on the kale to squeeze out some excess liquid.

2. Put a medium (9- to 10inch) nonstick skillet over medium-low heat and arrange the pancetta slices in the pan. Cook the pancetta until crisp and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes, flipping once or twice. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Add the butter to the pan, and as soon as it melts, add the ginger and stir to soften in slightly in the butter, about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and add the maple syrup. Stir well.

3. Life the kale from the strainer, squeezing one more time to release excess moisture, and add to the pan with the maple-ginger butter. Put the pan back over medium-low heat and toss the greens until well-coated and slightly warmed, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat, taste, and season very lightly with salt. Crumble the pancetta over the greens. Toss briefly to mix and transfer to a serving platter. Alternatively, transfer the greens to individual plates and crumble the pancetta over the top. Serve with the lemon wedges.

1 comment:

  1. This is definitely on my must-try list! I planted Swiss chard this year, and it's so prolific I keep searching for new ways to prepare it. Thanks for the recipe :)