Thank you, Molly Wizenberg, for teaching me how to love kale. In her Bon Appetit article last year entitled, "How I Learned to Love Kale," Molly detailed her hate relationship with this tough, leafy green, and explained how it all turned into love one night when her friend tossed a huge bunch of kale into a piping hot pan with olive oil, toasted walnuts, garlic, and finished it with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
Since reading that article, I approached the raw kale at my local market with some trepitation. But once it hit that pan of oil and garlic, and I heard its comforting crackle as it sauteed down and tenderized, Molly's encounter with kale fully became my own. This isn't your mother's kale... no, this kale is bright and citrusy, lightly salty and deeply aromatic.
I still remember sitting at the kitchen table as a child, staring into a bowl of pasta fagiole soup with big green leaves floating in it. Why couldn't my mom just be like the others who served up chicken nuggets from a box, I wondered, as she floated by and said convincingly, "it's kale, it's full of Vitamin A, E, and great for your health. Eat up!" Seriously? Gross.
Mom, if you served me that soup right now I would likely ask for seconds. I can't get enough of the stuff. Even M has learned to love kale, and that is a lot to say! We use it in sausage and white bean soup and toss it with spaghetti, but Molly's classic take on kale as a side-dish is still my favorite way to prepare it. Learning to love something has never tasted so good.
Sauteed Kale with Walnuts:
2 T. olive oil
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb kale, rinsed, cut from the stems, and coarsely chopped
salt to taste
juice of 1/2 a lemon
pepper to taste
In a large, deep pot, bring the oil to medium heat until it shimmers. Add the walnuts and allow them to pan-fry until aromatic, then add the garlic and saute until golden brown. Toss in all of the kale, and turn the heat down, tossing frequently to avoid burning. Then, cover and allow to cook until tender, approx. 15-20 minutes. Add the salt and the lemon juice and toss. Add pepper to taste.
Serves 4 as a side.