Get Your Green On

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Kale isn’t just for salad anymore.

Fashions come and go. And kale is taking its turn on the runway of trendy foods. Kale became a rising star when we learned that the darker the green, the more nutrition a vegetable holds. The structure of kale leaves also allows it to be used in multiple ways. Here’s a good starter set of recipes for this trendy produce.


Warm Kale and Romano Dip

Yield: 31⁄4 cups

6 bacon slices, chopped
1 pound kale, stemmed and chopped
1 small sweet onion, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
¼ cup dry white wine
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, diced and softened
½ cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded Romano cheese
1 cup shredded fontina cheese
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ teaspoon black pepper
⅛ teaspoon paprika
Assorted crackers

Place the bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring often until crispy, around 7 minutes. Drain on paper towels, reserving 1 tablespoon of the drippings in the pot. Add the kale, onions and garlic and saute 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the wine and cook 1 minute longer, loosening particles on the bottom of the pot. Remove from the heat and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 1½-quart baking dish and set aside.

Add the cream cheese and stir until melted. Stir in the mayonnaise, Romano, fontina, vinegar, crushed red pepper, black pepper and paprika. Stir until smooth and well blended. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and bake 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Remove and top with the bacon. Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving warm with assorted crackers.


Creamed Kale Gratin

Yield: 6 servings

5 cups whipping cream
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 pounds chopped kale
8 bacon slices, chopped
1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
½ teaspoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 cups grated Parmesan, divided
1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ cup panko
1 tablespoon olive oil

Place the cream and garlic in a heavy pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes or until reduced by half.

Meanwhile, add the kale to boiling salted water over high heat in a large Dutch oven. Cook 5 minutes, drain, cool 10 minutes, then pat dry and chop. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon about 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease an 11-by-7-inch baking dish. Add the onions to the bacon and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the kale and cook 2 minutes longer. Add the salt and pepper.
Stir one cup of the Parmesan and the cornstarch into the cooled cream. Stir into the kale mixture until well blended. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.

In a small bowl, stir together the panko, olive oil, and remaining cup of Parmesan. Sprinkle evenly over the kale. Bake 35 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


Kale and Feta Muffins

Yield: 8-10 servings

1 large sweet potato, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ cup milk
1½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
⅛ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon black pepper
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1½ cups chopped kale
¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup shredded Gruyere

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the sweet potatoes on a jellyroll pan and sprinkle with the oil. Toss to evenly coat. Bake for 20 minutes and cool for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, lightly grease a muffin tin and set aside. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, butter and milk. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, pepper and cayenne. Add to the egg mixture, stirring just until moistened. Add the kale, feta and Gruyere and, finally, the sweet potatoes. Divide evenly among the muffin cups, filling about ¾ full.

Bake 20-22 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before serving warm.


Whole Grain Salad with Crispy Kale

Yield: 6 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 large shallot, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1½ cups brown rice
½ cup pearl barley
3 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
4 cups roughly chopped kale

Place 1 tablespoon of the oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the onions, shallots, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the rice and barley and cook 2 minutes longer. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook about 45 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the kale and cook 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

To serve, fluff the rice mixture with a fork and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Fold in the kale and serve immediately.

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About Author

Tammy Algood

Originally from Starkville, Miss., Tammy Algood is a viticulture and wholesale produce specialist for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Market Development Division. She has a Bachelor’s of Science from Mississippi State University and a Master’s from Middle Tennessee State University.

She writes about food for The Tennessean and monthly for The Tennessee Magazine. As the spokesperson for the statewide “Pick Tennessee Products” campaign, Tammy also develops recipes for their website at www.picktnproducts.org.

Broadcast appearances include Nashville’s local ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates as well as statewide on PBS. Tammy can also be seen nationally on the HGTV and DIY networks.

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