Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Wilted Kale With Lemon, Olives, and Pancetta (and an Oxford Comma)

Michel has invented yet another new recipe for kale.  His ingenious method for using citrus to tame what some people find to be the belligerent nature of the plant makes for a delightful taste of summer months to come.  (This polar vortex thing can’t last forever.) The recipe is neither Kosher nor vegan, although there are several "facon" products on the market if you’re brave enough to try them. Frankly, they all look like they came out of a Play-Doh extruder to me.  

This refreshing and healthful kale salad is nothing like the lifeless “wilted lettuce” salads I remember from my youth.   You probably know that construction as well if you grew up in a small town where neighbors would share the abundance of their summer gardens. My childhood backyard neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Alf Weller and their daughters Catherine and Swearingen, would show up at the back door with armloads of vegetables, often including a "mess" of greens. Exactly what a "mess" equals I don't know, but when you have a mess of fresh greens you need to use them before they go bad in the refrigerator.  Hence, the wilted lettuce salad with bacon, sugar, vinegar, and other Protestant ingredients I can’t recall.  Of course we know that lettuce is mostly water, so what was left after the cast-iron skillet wilting process was a rather soupy green mixture from which I would pick out the bacon and leave the rest.  Can you blame me? 

Time to grab your kale-chopping weapon of choice and think about summer—or England, if you must. 

Wilted Kale with Lemon, Olives, and Pancetta

  • one bunch of kale (a big bunch, not the baby stuff)
  • one Meyer lemon (or any lemon will do)
  • a one-inch slice of pancetta, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup Sicilian olives

  • Remove stems from kale.
  • Cut the olives into quarters. They're pretty big fellas to start with.
  • Chop kale leaves, place in a large bowl, and add any oil leftover from the olives. 
  • Fry pancetta cubes in a skillet.
  • Once the pancetta has cooked, squeeze the juice of a whole Meyer lemon into the skillet and stir.  (You will notice that the mixture actually starts to thicken, due to some scientific interaction only Alton Brown could explain--at length.)
  • Pour the pancetta-lemon dressing over the kale and stir well.  The citrus does the wilting—no need to put the greens in the skillet. 
  • EAT.  

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