Kale has been cultivated for centuries. Farmers have been singing the praises of this humble cabbage-kin for just as long, but it’s only recently that farmers are seeing a remarkable surge in its consumption. In 2012, Kale was named THE vegetable of the year, and Bon Appetit crowned the kale salad the Dish of the Year. Mind you, this was no ordinary salad, but a Crispy Kale Salad with Lime Dressing done up by Brooklyn’s own Battersby. Kale is packed with antioxidants (Vitamins A, C, and K), fiber, and is a fresh addition to any mid-winter meal. Lacinto Kale, also referred to as dinosaur kale or Cavolo Nero in Italian, is my favorite of all the varieties for its distinctly sweet and delicate flavors. Kale is used in staple recipes as ribollita (a bread, tomato, kale soup) and minestrone (the hearty everything goes soup).
A year ago, I tasted a kale salad at Danny Meyer’s Untitled at the Whitney that truly changed my outlook on this humble cabbage. Kale chiffonade with shredded carrots, beets, and toasted pepitas were tossed in a bold, tangy and delicately balanced coriander yogurt dressing.
Getting a 2 year old to eat veggies, the dark, good-for-you kind, is like trying to herd cats. They say when children help prepare food, they are more interested in eating. Sounds “truthy,” but does it work? So, I had my little sous chef help me prep some kale. Basically, he got to rip the leaves from the stem, which is a productive outlet for one energetic cabin-feverish kid.
Truth be told, there isn’t a one-to-one correlation. While my little sous chef was excited to try out the orecchiette, but there wasn’t much interest in the kale, even though he remembered helping with de-stemming the kale. But on different night, he DID gobble down these crispy fried “chicken” kale without any prompting.
Crispy Fried “Chicken” Kale Recipe
While there is no actual chicken meat in the recipe but the seasoning and technique is similar to how I make fried chicken.
1 bunch Kale (curly variety creates the best crisps)
2 Cups AP Flour
2 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
Coarse Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
1 Teaspoon Paprika
2 Eggs, beaten, thinned with 1 Tablespoon water
1. Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat.
2. De-stem, wash and dry kale. Rip into bite-size pieces.
3. Add garlic powder, paprika to the flour and mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. In this case, I added about 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 Tablespoon of freshly group black pepper. Feel free to add as much or as little to fit your taste. Mix all the dry ingredients together.
4. Pour the beaten egg into a shallow bowl to create an egg bath.
5. Dip a piece of kale into the egg wash and then toss it into the flour mixture. Make sure pieces are evenly coated.
6. Drop the battered pieces into the hot oil, one at a time, and be sure to not overcrowd the pan. Adjust heat as needed it the oil gets too hot or vice versa.
7. Once the kale pieces crisp up and have a golden hue, use tongs or a spider to transfer the kale to a tray lined with paper towel. Serve while hot as a side or as a stand-alone snack.
Orecchiette with Sausage Kale and Breadcrumbs Recipe
This is my carnivorous version of the Orecchiette with Kale and Breadcrumbs recipe from Bon Appetit
- 1 lb. Lacinto kale (about 2 large bunches), stems trimmed
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped, divided
- 1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or omit if cooking for bambinos)
- 1 pound orecchiette “ear-shaped pasta”
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan Reggiano
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Pour breadcrumbs into a small baking pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss until all is evenly coated. Toast for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
Working in batches, cook kale in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, transfer to a rimmed baking sheet; let cool. Set aside pot with water. Squeeze out excess liquid from kale; chop leaves; set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage meat and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 4-5 minutes. Add chopped garlic and cook, stirring often, until meat is cooked, about 2 minutes. Add red pepper flakes, if using.
Add reserved kale. Cook, stirring often, until kale is warmed through, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, bring pasta water to a boil; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
Add pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to kale mixture and stir to coat. Increase heat to medium and continue stirring, adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta. Mix in Parmesan; toss to combine. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and top with toasted breadcrumbs.
Check out my other kale recipes: