Sunday, 21 July 2013

Is Kale Edible (to a soft Melbournian)?

Somehow Tuscan Kale got into the veg patch this year and as a handsome plant with height and brooding presence I’ve been loath to harvest the near-black leaves, rugged and rugose.

On the contrary, imagine growing Tuscan Kale among the superb silver, cut-edge leaves of globe artichoke (below); what a contrast. Would you do it formally? Alternately (no!)? Checker board-like? With care this could make a stunning and, I hope, a beautiful picture.

But a few yellow flowers probably mean imminent demise if other brassicas are any guide. I’ve heard of chopped, raw kale used in salad (`dreadful’) and traditional use requiring – before cooking - massaging of the leaves, but who has time and patience for this? Well, not me, obviously, I have no patience; this simply reminds me of peasants desperate for anything edible whether animal, vegetable or mineral; and, to draw a long bow, my mother’s stories of Britain during World War 2 when – while she was a girl at boarding school - nettles were regularly picked to eat.

 Luckily my sister is a chef (living with her one year was amazing) and she recommends chopping kale and frying it with some chopped onion in, I think, a knob of butter; I might add toasted pine nuts too. Prego!

And `ornamental’ kale (below)? I’ve been told that it’s edible too although I don’t think I could bear to pull up an attractive plant (or spoil the garden picture) just to cook it, until the kale looks far-gone and would presumably taste old and bitter. (This is my problem with the current enthusiasm for edible gardens: dismantling the pretty arrangement biannually just when it’s looking good.) But it’s tempting to experiment and I may pop a couple in some out-of-the-way spot.

Is Kale Edible Part 2?

I have done the deed, and the answer is yes!
I followed my chef-sister’s advice and chopped a little kale, fried it with some chopped onion in a knob of butter; I added toasted pine nuts but I wasn’t happy. The kale was a little bitter and I didn’t like the taste.
Then I had a brainwave (as Mum would say).
I found some white wine in the pantry (I always cook with wine; sometimes I put it in the food - anon) and slurped in a standard British dash (as Dad would say) then cooked it until the wine had evaporated. Delicious!

My slapdash recipe:

One large stalk of Tuscan Kale, chop top half, fry in a knob of butter
Half an onion, chopped, fry
Add a shake of salt
About 100g pine nuts, fry
Toss together; add about 30 or 40ml of white wine
Stir until the wine evaporates, serve
As a side dish, serves 2
Bon appétit! 

No comments:

Post a Comment