Sunday, September 12, 2010

Kale Butter Step 1: Admitting I Have a Problem

I am obsessed with kale.  I'm slightly worried that perhaps like a drug addiction, I'll wake up one morning, semi-clothed in a strange bathtub with a bottle of cheap olive oil, a butcher knife, and a new tattoo that says: Eat More Kale, and wonder how did I get here?

Lacinato Kale (aka dinosaur kale, Tuscan kale, or Cavolo Nero)
Without even realizing it, my addiction for kale has caused me to wake up from a peaceful slumber, in my own bed (no stranger's bathtub, yet) with a jonesing for kale so strong that even before coffee was made I was out in the garden picking kale to eat for breakfast.  Without being fully awake, I did not notice all the tiny aphid-eating white spiders that I was bringing into the house on the kale leaves, but even with the spider infestation, it was worth it.  (As a kale kale addict I only cared about getting my next fix, so I could care less that the spiders all drowned in the sink when I washed off the kale leaves.)

Lovely field of kale in my front yard.
If I look back, I'm not even sure how I got to this point.  I don't even clearly remember the first time I ever ate kale.  I do remember that it first came on my radar when we lived in Boise.  The brother of our neighbor across the street would stop by our house when he visited his sister.  He was a bit earthy-crunchy, and he had a lot of experience with organic vegetable gardening.  He'd come by with extra seeds, take a look at our garden, and offer advice.  He was raving about the dinosaur kale he grew, how it wouldn't get bitter or bolt in the heat like other greens, and how it produced like crazy.  So somewhere between the summer of 2008 and the late 2009, I have developed this kale "problem".

Kale addiction sneaks up on you because that's the thing about kale, it goes from being benign, vapid, non impressive, even to something you need to eat immediately, right this second, can't get enough of, have eaten so much of in the past 48 hours your poop turns green, obsession.

That's exactly what happened with my newest method of getting high on kale: kale butter.  At first it was eh, nothing special.  But then, I ate a whole batch by myself in a matter of hours and had to make another batch the next day, which I also polished off in less than 48 hours.  Then, two days later, my friend AMR, made invited me over and had made a batch, which I also put quite a dent in.

Kale Butter

I'd like to think that if I can't seem to get enough of  such a super powerhouse of nutritional density that it's my body simply telling me what I need.  Surprisingly, 1 cup of steamed kale has nearly the same amount of calcium as a cup of whole milk. Kale is also choke full of Iron, Fiber, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Magnesium and Phosphorus, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Potassium, Copper and Manganese, and even Protein.

But who cares about the nutriton when kale just tastes good? 

Kale Butter
This kale butter recipe came to me via my CSA weekly newsletter, along with a big baggie of Russian Red Kale.  Although I hate reprinting other recipes here, I'm going to give my interpretation of it.  Originally, this recipe came from Rip Esselstyn's The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter's 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plane that Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds.  I highly recommend this book.  Not only is it a compelling story of a group of firefighters that went vegan when their cholesterol levels were dangerously high (and as a result their levels dramatically dropped), but it is full of delicious, healthy, and easy to make recipes.  So, go make this kale butter and then get your hands on a copy of The Engine 2 Diet.  

This is hardly a recipe, but a technique for mainlining more kale.  Here's my intrepretation of it:

Steam a big bunch of chopped kale (don't even worry about destemming it) in a metal steamer basket for about 5 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, toast a handful of walnuts on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes or until golden brown.

Puree steamed kale and walnuts in food processor, adding the green steamer water if the mixture is too dry.

Add salt to taste.

Eat massive amounts on crackers, crostini, pita, sandwich bread, rice cakes, or straight from the bowl.


Cindy Salo said...

This is great! Don't know if I can say the same for kale...but I'm going to try some kale butter.
Can I just use everyday kale? or do I need some triceratops kale?

Sarah Lenz said...

Any kale will work for this recipe. Even the curly kale sold in most grocery stores primarily as a garnish. My love of dino kale really is just personal preference--although some say the taste of dino kale is better. In a recipe like this, though, I doubt that anyone could tell the difference between types of kale used.

Cindy Salo said...

I bought curly kale this evening. The cashier said, "Oh this stuff. We haven't sold any of this in a while." I told her about kale butter.
My internet was down so I made kale butter without checking the recipe. I didn't imagine that I was supposed to cook a "big bunch" of kale so I steamed one curly leaf and added a handful of walnuts. I cut up ancient flour tortillas and put them in the oven with the walnuts.
The kale butter smelled wonderful in the food processor. I figured we could be buddies in the 12 step program.
I ate kale butter until I was full, which was before I finished my one curly leaf.
I feel green inside. Kale butter is quite good and it has the highest "dirty dishes to edible food" ratio of anything I've ever cooked.

Sarah Lenz said...

My husband always says my greatest talent is dirtying a large amount of dishes in a short amount of time, so I guess making kale butter is no exception!

I'm glad you liked the kale butter!