In praise of kale

Hmmmmmm. Kale. Sounds as delicious as cheese or chocolate or champagne, right? Errr. Well, no. Not if you just boil and eat it. But, if you do something a little special, add a little pinch of this, a slosh of that, it can taste rather good. Kale is of course, 2013’s it food. I mean, it said so in The Times this weekend, although I’ve been eating it for waaaay longer than that (ok, since January). Packed with nutrients, it has 45 different antioxidants, helps detox the liver AND has far higher levels of magnesium, calcium (good if you’re trying to conceive a girl, but that’s a WHOLE new post) and vits A, C and K than any other veggie. It’s only the blinkin’ Wonder Woman of the vegetable world. All the rage in LA and making it’s way over here. Trust me. By summer you’ll be wondering how you ever lived without it.

So, how do you actually consume it? If you’re a hardcore type, then just freeze some and chuck a handful into your morning smoothie (maybe with some honey to sweeten things up). Or, throw some in a pan with some chilli, wine and onion, and then boil it all down (this is quite nice). Or you could just try this recipe from star chef Yottam Ottolenghi. I’d probably trust his way, after all, he does get paid for this kind of thing.

Sweet kale with lentils and pine nuts. Side dish for 4.

400g kale, washed, stems removed and cut into 3cm pieces
125g raisins
3 tbsp red-wine vinegar
2 large onions, peeled and cut into 1cm-thick slices
3 tbsp olive oil
20g unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
½ tsp sweet paprika, plus a bit extra to finish
¼ tsp ground turmeric
100g puy lentils, cooked
50g pine nuts, toasted 
Salt and black pepper

Boil a large pot of salted water, chuck in the kale and cook for four minutes. Strain, run cold water over it and strain again. Soak the raisins in the vinegar and set aside.

Add a tablespoon of oil and all the butter to a pan and fry the onions until caramelised. Then lower the heat to medium, add the garlic, paprika and turmeric, and cook for two minutes. Stir through the kale, a teaspoon of salt and pinch of pepper, and cook for two minutes until the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the raisins and their vinegar, the puy lentils, pine nuts and remaining oil, and serve warm sprinkled with a little more paprika.

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