Monday, July 30, 2012

Cannellini and Kale Ragout

The first of our kale has finally arrived!  For some reason this was one veggie I worried about the most from our CSA.  I have no aversion to leafy greens.  Salads are a lunch time staple and whenever I have time, a huge handful of spinach usually finds its way into a breakfast scramble in the morning.  But knowing kale's reputation as a super food, I was worried the others in the household may turn up their noses at this superfood.  A friend's kale chips had not been terribly well recieved last summer...

So starting simply, I tracked down a dish that had all of the appeal of a hearty Italian soup.  This vegetarian friendly dish fit the bill and ended up well liked by everyone.

adapted from recipes at Epicurious and Cooking Light

serves 4

The Ingredients:
1 Tbsp olive oil 
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 zucchini, quartered and cut into1/2-inch slices
6 cups chopped trimmed kale
1/2 cup water or vegetable broth
2 (16-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
salt and pepper to taste

for the croutons
8 - 3/4-inch-thick slices of day old French bread
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp garlic powder

The Process:
Preheat the oven to 400.  Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil.  Sprinkle generously with garlic and thyme.  Place in preheated oven and toast, flipping once, until golden brown, about 8 minutes.

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat.  Add garlic, onion and crushed red pepper to same pot; sauté over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until onion is tender and garlic is fragrant.   Add the zucchini and saute for  2 minutes more.   Add kale, and broth, tomatoes with juice, and beans.  Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the kale wilts, and the beans are heated through, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

 Ladle ragout into shallow bowls. Garnish with 2 croutons and serve. 

The Review:
Some had there doubts about the kale.  Others weren't sure the dish was fitting given the heat of the day.  All opinions were swayed upon trying the dish.

The balance of acidic tomatoes with the smoothness of the beans actual made the dish quite refreshing, even in our terrible summer heat.  I was not a fan of stand over the stove while the stewn cooked, but I would gladly sit down to a bowl of this ragout on another hot day in a heartbeat.  

The crouton truly sealed the deal on this dish for me.  Though I've always been a sucker for sopping up broths and gravies with crusty breads.

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