Learning about food, photography, and writing. Sharing what I find.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Tuscan Kale Inspiration

Sometimes you come across an ingredient that is just so beautiful it demands to have its picture taken. This Tuscan Kale was just like that. A wrinkly, green supermodel pouting up at me.

"You can't ignore my charm."

Well, when I was only beginning dinner at 8:15pm last night, I really WANTED to ignore its charm, but, alas, I couldn't.

Gorgeous, right?

The organic produce guy at the Swiss Cottage Farmer's Market never fails me, though I sometimes get overwhelmed by the wall of greens he's got going on this Autumn.

Kale (see Tuscan, above)
Rainbow Chard
Pak Choi
Red Lettuce
Green Lettuce

I've been dabbling in a bunch of them, but this kale really stood out last week and, well, I miss Tuscany.

That's me in Arezzo on a day trip from our home in Orvieto during '09. Open wine bottles in public are classy. But seriously, the vendor who sold it to me at the market opened it for me!

Lots of people don't like kale at all, including the woman from whom I adapted the recipe below, but when it's swimming in piping hot broth and cooked juuuuust right, I don't see how it's possible to hate on kale if you like any other green and leafy, hearty plant.

So, you get a bonus recipe this week because this kale was too pretty to leave unrecorded.

Tuscan Kale and Chick Pea Stew with 
Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper Pita Chips

Majorly adapted from here
*I was ready to make toast for dinner because I felt like I had an 'empty fridge,' but this type of soup is always make-able if you've got a relatively stocked pantry. I love surprise deliciousness from a depressingly vacant fridge.*

Stew Ingredients (serves 2):

1 generous bunch of Tuscan Kale (roughly 1/3 pound), ribs and stems removed, then coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
2/3 cup chopped yellow onion
1 large garlic clove (or 2 smal), finely chopped
3/4 cup dry sherry
1/2 can chick peas (or more if you're feeling especially bean-ish), drained and rinsed
2 cups turkey stock (obviously I'm trying to use up my oodles of Thanksgiving stock. To keep it vegetarian, use veg stock)
1/2 cup pureed tomatoes (fresh or canned)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Healthy pinch of dried thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar

Pita Chip Ingredients:

2 rounds of your favorite pita bread, cut into 2x2x1.5 inch isosceles triangles (hehehe)
3 Tbsp good-quality olive oil
Sea Salt
Freshly cracked black pepper


Place chopped kale in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with a couple generous pinches of sea salt and cover with boiling water. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in bottom of heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and saute for 15 minutes until soft and juuuust barely starting to brown.

Add sherry and cook until reduced by 1/2.

Add beans, stock, tomatoes, S&P, thyme and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to med-low and simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered.

While it cooks, toss your pita triangles in the olive oil. Place on a foiled baking sheet, not touching, then sprinkle the tops with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Toast in 350ยบ oven for about 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and set aside on a plate to cool.

Add chopped kale to stew, stir in and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, testing kale for doneness before serving. It should still have some form left to it, but no longer tough or chewy.

Just before removing from heat, stir in the wine vinegar.

Serve piping hot with pita chips on the side!


  1. I had some tuscan kale the other day from our veg box and made ribollita with it which was delicious. Will need to keep this in mind for the next time it arrives.

    My uncle lives in Arezzo and heading there for Christmas. Very excited.

  2. I am so very jealous that you're going to be in Italy for Christmas. Say hello to Orvieto for me if you have any time for a day trip! And go to Pizzeria Charlie on Corso Cavour if you're there.

    I've been making lots and lots of hot soups this Autumn-in-London because we're trying not to turn on the heat too much if we can! Soup warms me right up. And there's nothing better than a piping hot broth from the Thanksgiving turkey...