Swiming against the current - now that kale's no longer fashionable, here's a stew with it because I really hate fads!
I have said plenty of times that I'm one of those people who runs from fads like the proverbial devil runs from the proverbial cross. I like to give things a try unless it is something that immediately grosses me out - deep fried cockroaches come to mind - or is waaaaaaay out of what I can afford to buy - truffles and rhubarb, for instance! I may take me time getting there, because sometimes I can't find said things - this happens a lot with books and certain ingredients - but eventually I do get there, and I haven't lost all hope of trying rhubarb once. There will be the day I will find some rhubarb at an affordable price, it has happened already with asparagus, so hope remains.
Take bulgur, for instance. It took me years to find it here in Portugal. I had been readinga and coming across recipes with bulgur for ages before I finally stumbled across it at a local supermaket. Now, there's always a pack of bulgur on my pantry. Along with other staples, of course, like a certain kind of wheat and pearl barley, or red rice, red lentils and azuki beans. I always have those, and use them profusely, especially red lentils that tend to go into soups a lot, but also into stews so as to thicken the sauce some. I love red lentils and the subtle hint they leave on a dish, it's not a strong taste, but you know it's there, and it's a great one.
When one of my most detested fads came into being, that of green juices and juicing, kale became all the rave. People were drinking their kale like there was no tomorrow. I wasn't even curious about kale, to be honest, for years it passed me by without my even thinking twice about it or wanting to try it. It was just a fad, and I was happy with my usual greens. But then my sister, who fell into the juicing fad, started talking about kale and telling me how really delicious it is, what with its meaty flavour and the scent that infuses the kitchen while it's cooking. I became curious about it, when before I had been ignoring it happily. It was the meaty scent that did it, I know.
Suddenly, I really wanted to try kale. Not for juicing, hell no!! I wanted to sautée it, to stew it, to try it raw. I wanted to smell it and touch it and understand it. I began looking for it in earnest down at the many supermarkets, and one day I found it. WhenI looked at the price tag I had to laugh out loud in order to disguise my shock and contain my words. Thieves, I wanted to scream. The amount of money they asked for about a 100 gr of kale was enough to buy fruit for my son for a whole month. Kale became out of the question, straight away.
But as it is bound to normally happen - and that is why I haven't yet lost all hope on the rhubarb front - kale's price went down. And I mean reaaaaally down. I dunno, maybe it's not a fad anymore? Maybe it's not fashionable anymore to fill your instagram feed with lovely shots of curly kale? Whatever it is, whatever has changed, I'm glad. First because suddenly I could afford to buy a pack of kale. Second, because I hate doing what everyone else is doing. I always swim against the current, I always go the other way. I have been saying this since I was fifteen and first came across it, I'm José Régio's poem "Cântico Negro" to a dot. Really, I am. I completely identify myself with it and have wanted to tattoo a certain line from there for most of my life.
I just noticed I managed to once more infuse this post with literature, there's no helping that, I guess. So, I brought a pack of kale home. And have been bringing more and more every week, that's how much I rally loved the taste of it. I love the meaty scent, the strong flavour, the texture of kale. I have to admit, I was missing out! Kale is really one of my favourite veggies, now, I could eat it with pretty much everything! This time, and because I like to indulge myself in a bit of vegetarianism, I cooked it with another one of my all time faves, black beans. This dish has a little bit of a cajun or creole influence, I'll grant you that. But because my characters are still in New Orleans I feel infused by Louisiana in all I do, so please, do bare with me. Some of them will shortly be traveling to Finland, and I dread what that will do to this blog!
Anyway, here you go with the recipe for this kale and black bean stew:
- five to six kale leaves (big ones, if small, double the number)
- 1 can black beans
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 cellery stalk
- one onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 red chilli - keep the seeds if feeling gutsy!
- 3 large carrots
- 1 glass of red wine
- herbes de provence - a pinch is enough
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil
Start by dicing the onion, the carrots and the cellery along with the garlic and the chilli. On a pan, bring the olive oil to heat and sautée the veggies until the aromas start spreading and the vegetables start browning ever so slightly. Refresh with the wine and stir around. Chop the kale into strips and add to the pan, moving it around so it gets coated. Now add the can of tomatoes and the liquid from the can of black beans, reserve the beans. Season with the herbs, the salt and the pepper and allow to cook for fifteen minutes, with a lid on and on low heat. After that time, add the black beans, bring to a boil and let it simmer for five to ten minutes, until the kale and the carrots are tender. Serve with a slice of homemade bread, and it's heaven on a plate.