Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Try it Tuesday: kale as comfort food?

When Ryan and I first got married in college we ate a lot of ramen noodles, mac and cheese. When we had our first baby 3 years later it was time to health things up a little. We were still in college so we ate beans and rice, rice and beans. When I was pregnant with our second child and saving for a house in Oregon during the housing boom, we ate soup. Yep, I know how to stretch a buck! Right around the same time, I started writing for a local magazine, D’Lish, which forced me to be a little more creative. Still, I think my favorite recipes were a couple of creamy soups, sans cream, that delivered leafy greens with out having to choke down yet another obligatory salad (it was fall and big salad season was over).

Acorn Squash Soup with Kale and Crumbled Bacon remains a favorite, not only because it is delicious and healthy at the same time, but because it always reminds me of those times. Those were tight days. Those were good days. And every fall, I pick up acorn squash and kale at the market and mix up a cheap, comfort food that brings all those memories back.

Isn’t that what comfort food is after all? Comfort doesn’t lie in the carbohydrate content or calorie count. What makes a meal a comfort food is the memories it evokes – the bittersweet move away from family in North Dakota to beautiful Oregon, living with discipline and creativity to makes end meet and still stay home with my kids, launching my love affair with food, Josephine’s baby curls twirling as she squeezed herself in her doll stroller,
wiggly baby Georgia swaddled tight, walking to Ryan’s office in the summer so we could use our single family car, smelling every flower on the way. Finally saving enough for our own home, another car, and another baby.

So thank you Christy for assigning me Kale for Try it Tuesday. I smiled the entire time I was making the Warm White Bean Salad with Kale and Tomatoes. Since it is summer, I didn’t want to go with the soup. So I merged a newer recipe for Tomato Basil Bean salad, which I developed after growing my first garden, with the old apartment acorn and kale soup recipe.

Fresh and light for summer, yet satisfying; beans are packed full of fiber and protein making this a great meal to skip on the meat and eat with a chunk of crusty bread. Or serve as a side with grilled chicken, fish, or beef.

Warm White Beans with Kale and Tomatoes

2 cans cannelini beans
1 bundle of kale (several cups)
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium low. Add tomatoes, cover and let sit until they begin to burst (about 15 min.). Meanwhile, pull kale leaves off stems and run through with a knife for a rough chop.
2. When tomatoes begin to burst, add grated or minced garlic. Stir together, mashing any un-burst tomatoes. Add kale and stir to coat leaves with oil. Add 1 – 2 tbsp water (depending on how juicy the tomatoes) turn heat to low, cover pan, and let kale wilt and steam until tender (about 15 minutes). Once kale is tender, add rinsed beans, salt and pepper to taste (optional), and serve warm or room temperature.

Serves 4

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