Kale Me Maybe

Recipes in this post:

Wine Flour Dusted Kale Chips
One Pot Pasta with Sausage and Greens
Chicken Braised with Pine Nuts and Potatoes

I enjoy prepping vegetables for meals. I really do. Give me a sharp knife, a large, solid cutting board, adequate prep bowls, a compost bowl, and (ideally) sunlight streaming through the window and I will contentedly slice and chop away. I crave the activity even now, with two children, and seek to carve out the time for it at least a few days when someone else is caring for them. It’s a privilege, I know, to have access to fresh foods, resources and time to prepare healthy meals. I’m grateful. It’s another reason why I work to make the most of the ingredients and leftovers in my home.

As someone who prides herself on efficiency, I should get myself in the habit of doing bulk prep—processing produce for a series of recipes at one time. I’m disappointed in myself for falling short there. So last week, I buckled down, focused, and made a plan. I incorporated several languishing ingredients from my ample stock in a few various recipes. 

The plan centered around my bunch of red kale from my farm share. It was one of the more perishable ingredients remaining in my vegetable drawer (other than the herbs), though at the same time, I remembered I needed to jump on cooking the beet greens. So those were planned for the one pot pasta – along with the can of tomato sauce I sent tumbling and denting on the garage floor.

Exhibit B – dented tomato sauce can. Used for One Pot Pasta with Sausage and Greens. Replace cayenne with red pepper flakes.

Some of the kale was used in a complex chicken dish (recipe below) that also used farm share potatoes. It was a welcome change in starch after over a week of rice dishes (which my husband never tired of). 

Side note: here’s a tip (that any good chef and kitchen manager knows) — label your prep! Because I skipped this step, I ended up mixing up one of the kale containers and beet green containers and swapped the two in the aforementioned recipes. (Fortunately, it wasn’t a critical mistake in this case. Nor was the barbecue sauce I poured over my salad last night, instead of balsamic dressing — I imagined it was a southwestern salad and it was entirely edible! No food waste…)

The last of the kale became kale chips, inspired by a recipe sent along with “wine flour” a friend sent as a gift. He knew well my penchant for delicious, upcycled ingredients. In the past, spent grain flour from RISE worked wonderfully in a chocolate bread. I’m a fan of Toast Ale and White Mustache Yogurt Probiotic Whey Ice Pops, to name a few. I hadn’t yet heard of Finger Lakes Wine flour. It’s made using the byproduct of wine-making. I was given a bag of Riesling wine flour.

Riesling Flour Dusted Kale Chips
Recipe provided by Finger Lakes Wine Flour

6 Cups (packed) Torn Kale
2.5 Tablespoons Wine Flour
¼ Cup Plus 1-2 Tablespoons Grapeseed, Canola, or other vegetable oil
Salt for sprinkling on top (I used Maldon flakes)

As you can see, “wine flour” is made up of leftover skins and seeds of grapes. When I opened the bag, I took a deep inhale. It reminded me of the scent of a multigrain raisin bread I recently had. Which make sense if you consider raisins are dried grapes, and the bread grains and seeds could be compared to the grape seeds!

The process for the kale chips is very straightforward:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 Fahrenheit
  2. Mix seasoning ingredients

3. Add to and massage into kale

4. Spread on baking sheets

Bake until crisp but not burnt (around 15 minutes), rotating and switching around pans in oven every 5 minutes or so.

Notice how dark these are! They weren’t burnt, but it is very hard to tell with the darkness of the wine flour.

My preschooler munched away on the kale chips, saying he liked them better than the last time I made them with a different recipe (no wine flour). Success!

One Pot Pasta with Sausage and Greens
from New York Times Cooking

1 Tablespoon olive oil
5 to 6 ounces (2-3) sweet or hot Italian sausages, casings removed
1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes – sauce or crushed (you don’t want a lot of texture here)
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
Kosher salt
1 pound dried pasta (penne, or other tube pasta)
About 5 ounces greens, such as beet greens, kale, or spinach
½ Cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated

  1. In a Dutch oven or other large, deep lidded skillet, heat the oil over medium-high until shimmering. Add sausage, broken apart, and let start to brown in the pan for about a minute.
  2. Continue to cook the sausage for another 5 minutes or so, taking breaks between stirring and breaking it up, until you have small, brown, crispy chunks. Drain any excess oil, leaving about 1 Tablespoon behind.
  3. Add the tomato sauce in carefully, then incorporate the cumin, red-pepper flakes and 2 cups water.
    Add a generous pinch of salt and turn up the temperature to bring liquid to a boil.
  4. Add the pasta, and mix in to coat with the sauce. Lower the heat to a simmer (I moved my pot to a different burner), cover, and cook until al dente (check a minute or two before the package instructions say). Be sure to open very few minutes to stir so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. You may need to add in a few tablespoons of warm water.
  5. Reduce the heat further, and season to taste with salt. Add your greens a little at a time and cook until wilted.
    Here’s the kale strips added; it was no less delicious as it would have been with beet greens!
  6. Serve in bowls, topped with cheese.
In my house, bread for sopping up sauce is also a must.

Chicken Braised with Pine Nuts and Potatoes
from New York Times Cooking

3 Tablespoons olive oil
6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (I only had 4 and it was not enough!)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 medium (or 5 small!) onions, sliced
1 fennel bulb, chopped (this replaced celery in the original recipe. Another CSA share item I had to use up!)
8 whole garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
⅔ Cup dry white wine
3 Tablespoons sherry vinegar, plus more if needed
3 Tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
4 dried bay leaves
4 whole cloves
Pinch of saffron (optional)
1 pound baby potatoes, washed and halved
About 1.5 Cups chicken stock, broth, or water (I used a combination of leftover chicken glace and water
~3 ounces greens (such as kale or beet greens), stemmed and thinly sliced
1-2 Tablespoons unsalted butter (depends on the richness of your chicken broth or stock)
¼ Cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped, plus more for serving

A note on this recipe: it was very helpful to have most of the ingredients prepared ahead of time. In terms of chopping, I really only reserved the parsley and potatoes for dinner time, since herbs should be as fresh as possible, and uncooked potatoes turn black if left cut (though they can be submerged in water.)

While I was working on the kale, fennel, onions and garlic in advance, my older son came over and, completely unprompted, picked up an onion and started to help me peel. My heart was warmed with pride and happiness!

Still, the recipe takes much longer than I prefer. It is a braise after all. It was challenging to monitor and taste and execute especially on a night when our 4-month-old decided to stay up until 10pm.

At least he’s cute.

But I do recommend it as a special occasion meal or preparation for dinner guests (if we ever have those again).

  1. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
  2. Add oil to a Dutch oven or other large, deep skillet that will fit all of the chicken pieces in one layer. Heat over high heat until shimmering so that the chicken pieces (skin-side down) will sizzle once added. Turn heat down if/when there is popping or burning. Brown skin until it pulls away from pan easily, about 10 minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside.

3. Add onions, fennel and garlic to the oil and fat in the pot, along with salt. Stir until softened, about 5 minutes. Deglaze with the wine and vinegar.

4. Stir in 1/2 cup water or chicken broth, pine nuts, bay leaves, cloves and saffron.

5. Add potatoes and as much water or stock it takes to come up to the sides of the potatoes. Place the chicken pieces back in the pan, skin-side up, and nestle them into the liquid among the potatoes.

Cover tightly and let cook with very low heat, checking after about 45 minutes to test the doneness of the potatoes. It might take 20 more minutes.

6. At this point, you can hold the dish until ready to serve; rewarm gently. Taste the liquid to determine how much salt, pepper, and vinegar is needed. I needed to add salt, and a splash more vinegar to balance the richness of the glace.

7. Stir in the greens (beet greens in this case) and cook through.

8. Add in butter and parsley and serve.

That’s a wrap!