Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sautéed Kale With Garlic And Grilled Sweet Onions

Is your garden overflowing with kale like mine is? Although it was quite some time ago that the tiny kale starts were planted, and it seemed like forever would happen before we could start harvesting,

if it weren't for the Cabbage and Sulphur butterfly worms taking their share I wouldn't be able to keep up, it's growing so fast.
I know it's hard to tell, but this is a very, very large bowl of two kinds of kale: green curly , very simply named, and a beautiful dark green, upright variety that has far too many names, among them lacinato, dinosaur, Tuscan, Italian Black Kale and cavolo nero. Kale is easy to grow in both cool and hot climates. Here on the north coast of California it will grow year-round, loving a kiss of frost in the winter. In hotter climes it's better as a fall through spring crop.

So far as I know, kale's only predators are the said beasties shown above. A sprinkling of diatomaceaous earth on the leaves will keep them at bay, at least long enough for you to get your share. Or, you can just plant enough kale so everyone's happy.

Kale is a member of the brassica family which includes cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli and more and is a highly nutritious vegetable. Grow it in your garden or buy it at your farmers market or organic produce store. As shown in the recipe below - a little garlic, some grilled sweet onions, a sprinking of balsamic vinegar, a poached egg and voilà. . . a light and lovely summer meal.

So let's start with the onions. To get caramelized sweetness out of a Walla Walla onion, grill it.

Here's a fun way: Cut off the stem and peel back the soft outer layer of the bulb. Cut the onion in half through the root end, leaving roots on each half to hold themselves together. Using a sharp knife, cut the onion halves into wedges, not cutting through the root end.

Rub each onion half with olive oil and grill both sides on medium heat until golden brown, slightly charred at some of the ends, and very soft - looking quite like something other than an onion: A peony, a mop head, a sea anemone, an extra-terrestrial, a muppet, are a few we came up with. Use tongs at the root end to move the onions around the grill. When you're ready to use the onions, simply snip out the root end using kitchen shears. The wedges will plop gently to your cutting board, ready to be cut and warmed in the pan.

Christine's Garden Fresh Sautéed Kale with Garlic and Sweet Onions
Several large bunches of kale, curly and "lacinato"
4 large cloves fresh garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 tablespoon good olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
grilled Walla Walla or other sweet onion prepared as above

Wash the kale in cold water. Tear the leaves into pieces, discarding the larger, tougher stalks at the bottom of each leaf. You can cut these into small pieces and saute them with the garlic and onions if you wish, but I didn't.
Put one half of the olive oil into a large pot and heat it over medium high until it shimmers. Toss in the kale (it will spatter a bit because of the water on the leaves) and sauté, sprinkling with a pinch of two of kosher salt, turning with tongs, until wilted and tender but still bright green.
Meanwhile, using the rest of the olive oil in a skillet, sauté the grilled onion pieces and garlic until the garlic is golden brown and tender.
When the kale is ready, sprinkle with the balsamic vinegar and toss with the onion garlic mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
For a bit of protein, poach or gently fry an egg to put on top. Let the runny yolk dribble down over the kale. Eat it up while it's hot.

Copyright © 2005-2008, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved


  1. You know something, I've never had kale. Strange but true. I'm sure I'd love it the way you prepared in this dish. Especially with the egg. Yum.
    So... what does cooked kale taste like? Cooked cabbage? Or is it more bitter?

  2. Please could I have some of that grilled onion!! My that looks fabulous.
    I wish I had kale growing like that. Gorgeous. And go heavy with the garlic for me.

  3. The grilled onion looks totally cute. My kale is also doing well and I have been using it. And I finally have two tiny tiny tomatoes.

  4. Nerissa, the lacinato kale has got a nice sweetness to it and does not taste at all like cabbage. The curly kale is a tougher leaf with a more pronounced, slightly bitter taste, again not really cabbage-like, but it mellows very nicely with sauteeing. I've sauteed it with garlic in olive oil and added a squeeze of lemon at the end and called it good.

    Tanna, the Walla Wallas that are coming from our farmers market are fantastic!

    Yay, Simona, on your tiny tomatoes and kale. You must come into the greenhouse today and see my huge crop of still very green ones which I'm not sure will ever ripen.

  5. Don't you just love grilled onions? Well, for that matter, grilled anything!

    That is one delicious plate of food porn!

  6. Christine, kale is one of my favorite greens, it must be extra delicious knowing you grew it! Your recipe looks delicious!

  7. Thank you, Mr. Orph. And thanks to you also, Lucy. I love it that kale grows so well in my garden.


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