24 January 2013

Kale with Lardons and Pecans

Lately I can't turn the aisle in my grocery store without running into kale in some shape or form. Sure, it's a super food. Sure, as a food of the moment it is healthier than pork belly,  which was everywhere circa 2010-2011. But good grief... from the deli section's raw kale salad to the dairy section's new green smoothies "with raw kale", to the kale chips alongside the normal chips I think everyone has gone a little kale-crazy. It's made me nostalgic for Spinach.

Kale is also a regular sight in my winter CSA box (bag rather), so there is little choice in the matter short of letting the stuff go limp in the fridge. At the same time I'm at little risk of not getting my daily mega-dose of Vitamin's A, B, C, and K.  Yes K.  
Food trends make me want to revolt against whatever it is. Something about the disparity of food, which is ultimately meant to fuel the body, and the idea of completely transforming this into something that is meant to be fashionable, just doesn't jive.  Perhaps it was for this rebellious reason that I've been making this dish repeatedly this winter. Something that takes a food so humble and healthy and ads bacon and cream to it. What a rebel!

Kale with Lardons and Pecans
Adapted from Food 52

The original recipe, a "best greens" contest winner on the Food 52 site, called for rosemary infused walnuts. I've tried it with walnuts, hazelnuts, and finally pecans -- all of them tasted great with the rosemary and give the rich kale a bit of a kick. I heated the oil to infuse it with the rosemary. 

Serves 4

Kale: 
4 ounces lardons, chopped into 1/4 inch squares
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large bunch kale
1/4 cup white wine
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 cup heavy cream

Toasted Pecans with Rosemary:  
3/4 cups pecans, toasted and chopped roughly
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon sea salt, fluer de sel, maldon sea salt, or other flavorful salt (not table salt)

Wash kale thoroughly by filling a large bowl with cold water and in batches submerging kale entirely. Lift leaves in bunches from water and place in nearby colander. Rinse kale in colander a second time and then remove large ribs from kale. Place leaves on top of one another on a cutting board and slice into 1/4 inch strips. Set aside on kitchen towel.

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the lardons and cook until the fat renders and the lardons are crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the kale (in batches, if necessary), and toss to evenly heat. When the kale is mostly wilted, add the wine. Lower the heat and simmer until the wine is almost entirely evaporated, 4-5 minutes. Toss the kale occasionally as it cooks. Season the kale with salt, pepper, and pepper flakes. Add the cream and stir well to combine. Keep warm. 

In a small pan, heat the olive oil and chopped rosemary for 1 minute. Add the pecans and toss with the olive oil well to coat. Add the rosemary and salt and toss well to combine. Transfer the walnuts to a baking sheet and toast until fragrant, about 8-10 minutes. Cool slightly, and roughly chop. Fold the lardons into the kale, transfer the to a serving dish and top with the pecans.

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