Spring may not be properly sprung, judging by this week’s storms, but there’s still a lightness in the air, a brightness in the mornings and evenings which translates itself onto the dinner table. Not being entirely well organised gardeners, it took us a while to figure out which of the selection of plants still standing (or half battered down) in the garden is kale – the other that we still have growing is purple sprouting broccoli or PSB, although not yet P or S, although we still have our fingers crossed. We’re growing a variety called Ragged Jack, with large frilly leaves, and I had only ever encountered curly kale before this so initially refused to believe that it was edible. After confirming that it is indeed edible – more than that, it’s actually delicious, with tender and juicy leaves – we have been eating it with abandon.
During the dog days of winter, it made frequent appearances as a last minute addition to stews and soups – that was if someone felt like braving the nasty weather and Very Dark Garden outside. Happily, the Husband’s head torch (normally used for camping) proved very useful in a winter countryside setting. Washed, de-stemmed and shredded, it just takes a few minutes to cook in a pan of bubbling winter-time food, softening into a delicious bright greenness in minutes. But there’s more to kale than using it just as a last-minute addition other meals. Here’s a recipe for those times when you feel like you need a spring tonic – just kale, garlic, chilli, olive oil and lemon juice. After a plateful of this, perhaps on a slice of your own homemade bread rubbed with more garlic and drizzled with some of the olive oil you used to cook the kale, you’ll feel ready to face whatever the weather may throw at you.
Kale with Garlic, Chilli and Lemon
For each person
Kale – a couple of handfuls
Garlic – 1 clove, peeled and sliced
Red chilli – ½, deseeded and sliced finely
Freshly ground black pepper, sea salt
Lemon – ½
Sourdough bread – 1 long slice
Garlic, olive oil
Wash the kale thoroughly. Remove the stem with a sharp knife, roll up the leaves and cut into shreds about 1cm thick. Start toasting the bread. Heat a glug of olive oil in a frying pan, add the garlic, cook over a medium heat until just golden then add the chilli and shredded kale.
Season and stir well. Clamp a lid or plate on top of the pan and allow the kale to cook in its own steam for a couple of minutes. Squeeze some lemon juice to taste then serve on a warm plate, piled on top of the hot toast, rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil.