Cacio e pepe-style braised kale

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So. Kale.

The “it food” is actually losing a bit of its celebrity. If you’ve read any articles on food trends for 2015, kale is on the way out and a hybrid kale-brussel sprout thing is the new it-healthy-will-fix-all-of-your-problems-forever food. I haven’t seen this mysterious cruciferous vegetable in real life yet, but I’m certain it will be coming to a store near you ever so soon. (Hey the pictures look pretty so I might break down and buy into the hype.)

Needless to say, although I’m not one to immediately jump on any food trend bandwagons, they’re hard to miss, and there’s no point to be obstinate and purposely avoid them. Although I’ve only had one in my whole life, green smoothies really aren’t bad–they’re actually pretty good. And a kale salad prepared the right way (chopped finely. Massaging is for shoulders, not vegetables.) can be really great, especially in the middle of winter. This kale salad is a particular favorite.

It has been super cold recently, and I needed a break from all of the comfort food I’ve been eating, but a healthy salad just won’t warm me up no matter how hard it tries. I’m having to get my fill of vegetables other ways, scouring magazines and cookbooks for something other than old standby of roasted broccoli which starts to get really unappetizing week after week.

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Now I’m not the biggest fan of greens, but this braised kale is pretty good and certainly is an ideal choice for days when it’s too cold to go outside. The preparation is pretty standard: Saute the kale a bit and then add broth, but the seasonings once the kale is fully cooked are what make it more exciting than your typical cooked green. A hefty dose of freshly ground black pepper and a handful of Parmesan transforms pretty dull kale into something you’ll actually look forward to eating for dinner. It’s best right after you’ve tossed it together, so if you’re only serving two, scoop it into big bowls with crusty bread on the side to mop up the dregs of broth. It’s a light dinner or a healthy side that’s a nice break from the carb- and sauce-heavy winter standards.

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Cacio e pepe-style braised kale
from Food & Wine, December 2014
serves 4 as a side, 2 as an entree
four-stars

 

Notes: I use normal curly green kale, not lacinato which F&W suggests.

This doesn’t do well as leftovers.

 

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound kale, stems removed and leaves torn into large pieces
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
kosher salt
crushed red pepper flakes
black pepper, preferably freshly ground
½ cup Parmesan, freshly grated

 

1. In a Dutch oven, melt the butter in the olive oil over medium heat. Add kale in batches and cook, stirring, until wilted.

2. Add broth and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until most of the broth is absorbed, about 10 minutes.

3. Season with salt, and then transfer the kale to a serving dish. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, a pinch of salt and a hefty amount of black pepper and cheese. Serve immediately.

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