Food You Can Eat: Two Uses For Kale

Into every life a little kale must fall

This pic makes my right eye twitch uncontrollably.

I am not a fan of kale. You chew, and chew and chew and chew, and regret your life’s choices. Nonetheless, it is a superfood, chock full of all sorts of useful vitamins and minerals, and it mysteriously appears in the sustainable, reusable, recyclable cloth bags that Better Half totes home from his foragings. I found two ways to use it that make it palatable to me.

Flounder with Garlicked Kale and White Beans

This recipe originally called for sustainable Alaska sole, but since I am very far away from Alaska’s docks I make do with the flounder from the local fishmonger. I love “white beans”, so that’s another plus. Even the kale becomes acceptable the way you use it here.

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large leek, white and light green parts, washed and thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced [use more. I had three left so I used those.]
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch kale, leaves stripped from stems and roughly torn
1 (15.5-ounce) can white beans, such as cannellini, navy, or butter, drained and rinsed
2 lemons, divided
1 small head fennel, thinly sliced, fronds reserved [you don’t really need this if you don’t have this lying around]
4 (4 to 5 ounces each) boneless Alaska sole filets (thawed, if frozen) [fresh and refrigerated flounder from when I bought it from the local fishmonger three hours previous]
3 tablespoons unsalted butter 

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the leek and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until translucent, about 5 minutes. 

Add kale (in batches if needed), season with more salt and pepper to taste, and cook until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and gently stir in the beans. Cook for another 4 minutes, until the beans are just warmed. Transfer to a large serving dish, and don’t wash the skillet (you’ll use it again for the fish). Halve one of the lemons and squeeze it over the beans and greens. 

In a small bowl, toss together the fennel and the juice from the other half of the first lemon (about 1 1/2 tablespoons). Season with salt and pepper. [I find this to be optional, but go the extra mile if you want]

Wipe out the skillet. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Heat the butter and remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the same large nonstick skillet over medium until the butter starts to foam and smells barely nutty, then add the fish in a single layer. Cook the fish for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until it flakes easily with a fork. Remove from heat.

Top beans and greens with the filets and pour any browned butter left in the pan over top. Scatter the fennel mixture over the fish and top with reserved fennel fronds [if you bothered with the fennel]. Slice the remaining lemon into wedges for serving.

This supposedly serves 2 to 4, but I found that this serves 2 with unseasoned, quick-cooked flounder left over for The Ravenous Hound, to be flaked and thoroughly mixed with his kibble. DO NOT SHARE THE KALE WITH ANY ANIMALS YOU MIGHT HAVE LYING IN WAIT. Ditto the garlic.

“Kalecannon” Potatoes

Colcannon potatoes is an old and popular dish, traditionally made with cabbage. If you judiciously sub in smaller amounts of kale you can use up that unlovely green. This will serve 2 to 4 as a side. I would not be averse to eating this as a main, rather than a side, but I love all potato recipes.

2 pounds russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
4 tbsp. or 1/2 stick butter, divided. Feel free to use more. Use Kerrygold to emphasize the Irishness of this humble repast.
2 cups lightly packed kale. This is still quite a bit, actually. Buy about 4 or 5 oz.-worth, and chop it as small as you can. You might find this conveniently chopped in a bag at your local supermarket.
3 or 4 green onions, diced
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 or 4 pinches of ground black pepper
4 to 6 slices of crumbled bacon (4 is good; 6 makes this very bacon-y.) Additional bacon for The Ravenous Hound.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook for 20 minutes or until fork tender.

Drain the pot and set potatoes aside. Return the pot to medium/high heat and add 2 of the tablespoons of butter. Add the kale and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 3 minutes. Add green onion and cook for one more additional minute, stirring.

Pour in the cream and stir to combine. Add the potatoes. Use a potato masher (or a fork; you aren’t making that much) to mash the potatoes and mix everything together.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in the cooked bacon crumbles.

Serve topped with the remaining 2 (or more) tablespoons of butter. You can melt the butter and pour it on, or dab it on and stir it in so you don’t get a forkful of chunked butter when you go to eat this.



    • I thought mine was a distinctly minority opinion. For example, about a decade ago all those horrible, overpriced salad chains started opening up and wilted, unfrozen kale was always one of the wilted, unfrozen greens choices. Then I started noticing it on more and more menus. Someone must be eating it, but luckily apparently none of my friends do, or at least they don’t serve it to me.

  1. While others (ahem) agree with Mr. Butcher, I have had a delicious kale Cesar salad at a local restaurant. Sadly, it closed due to the pandemic – not the menu option.

  2. I recommend this pork ragu recipe. It stews long enough for it not to require much chewing. It’s a staple for us and feels healthy because of the kale.

    I’m also not a big fan of kale especially raw kale. The other day I convinced myself to order a kale salad for lunch because healthy choices. I was instantly filled with regret and self loathing as I masticated the kale. Which lead me to contemplated what life as a cow must be like constantly chewing and regurgitating and chewing and regurgitating ad infinitum until it gets a bullet to the brain.

  3. Don’t buy that shitty curly kale like in the picture. That’s only good for using to fill spaces on a buffet.

    Laminato kale/Tuscan kale/”dinosaur kale”/cavolo nero is totally the best kale. Get this one. Young leaves are edible raw in salads. If it’s good enough for Stanley Tucci, you’ll like it too.

    Siberian kale or Red Russian Kale are also good because they have mostly flat leaves.

    The problem with kale being in everything is that kale needs to braise or stew for a while.

    It’s wonderful in hearty soups and stews, or if you’re making something like a pork roast that’s going to cook for a while. Also great for make ahead salads because a vinaigrette dressing will acid cook the kale a bit and it will hold up for days, compared to lettuce.

  4. Kale is fine and all, but will we be getting a FYCE jello mold special?  It’s getting to be jello mold (or in the UK,  “jello mould”) season, isn’t it?

  5. im dutch…we just mash it into mashed potatos and drown it in gravy…and throw a rookworst at it

    goes down like a brick and keeps you warm for hours…..good winterfood

    (i know ive said this in different words before)

    anyways good gravy is key

Leave a Reply