Recipe For Health
by Corporate Chef Kurt Kwiatkowski
Featured Food: kale Yield: Serves 8-10Learn more about kale

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. French green lentils, sorted and rinsed
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 3 c. diced yellow onions
  • 3 c. medium diced celery
  • 3 c. medium diced carrots
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 3 T. tomato paste
  • 8 oz. beer (I prefer a nice hoppy IPA type beer)
  • 6 c. vegetable broth
  • 1-14 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 2 t. ground cumin
  • 1 small bunch Tuscan kale, center ribs and stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1 T. minced thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese

Preparation

Place lentils in a large bowl; add boiling water to cover. Allow to sit for 15 minutes; drain.

Meanwhile in a large stockpot over medium heat, heat olive oil and sauté onions, celery, and carrots for 10 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for one minute. Add tomato paste and sauté for another minute.  

Deglaze pot with beer. Stir in broth, tomatoes and cumin. Bring to a boil, add the lentils then reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes, add kale and continue simmering until kale is tender and lentils are cooked through, about 20 minutes. 

Add thyme, taste stew and adjust seasoning as needed with salt and pepper. Garnish with freshly grated cheese and serve. 

Learn More About kale

You may have heard. Kale is the new spinach. Kale’s surge in popularity may be related to its hardiness in our northern climate. Or that it has a distinctively rich, almost sweet flavor. Or that you can hardly go wrong in preparing it.

Varieties commonly found in the grocery store (Scotch Kales) have curly-leaves with a thick, sturdy stem. You’ll find other varieties such as Lacinato (also called Dinosaur and Tuscan—long, bumpy blue-green leaves) and Siberian (Russian—flat, gray-green leaves) at farmers’ markets.

The freshest kale will have firm, deep-colored leaves and sturdy stems. Store it unwashed in an air-tight bag for up to 5 days. Before preparing kale, remove stems and ribs then wash the leaves in several changes of cool water. If you buy bagged greens (prewashed), storage life is short—use or blanch them within a day or two.

5 ways to prepare kale:

Kale chips in microwave. Use Lacinato Kale. Dry leaves thoroughly and tear into 2- to 3-inch pieces. Toss with small amount of oil. Working in batches, spread leaves in a single layer on a dinner plate. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Microwave 3 minutes; continue in 30-second increments until crispy. Repeat for remaining batches.

Tenderize for salads. Stack leaves and cut into ¼-inch ribbons. Use your fingertips to knead and squeeze Scotch Kale for 5 minutes, other types for 1 minute.

Pan steam. In heavy pan, cook garlic in olive oil. Add damp chopped kale to pan, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Slow braise. In heavy pan, cook onions in olive oil. Add damp chopped kale and cook until kale begins to wilt. Add 2 cups liquid, cover and cook until leaves are tender, about 30 minutes. Uncover, increase heat and cook until liquid evaporates. Season to taste.

Boil or simmer. Follow method in Chef’s recipe.

Peggy Crum MA, RD

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