My garden is overflowing with kale, and unfortunately, it is not my favorite green. I know it’s good for me, full of antioxidants and other vitamins, but I have a hard time getting around to cooking it. Enter some great ideas from two books, An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler and Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Norsrat. Ms. Adler modeled her book after one of my favorite food essayists, M.F.K. Fisher. Her classic collection of essays, How to Cook a Wolf, was written amid the hardships of W.W. II and is about cooking well in spite of lack. The New York Times described it as “spiritually restorative”. Ms. Adlers book is about eating affordably, responsibly, and well. There are recipes but it also contains many ideas to think about in light of our current global situation. I recommend all three of the books, they are essential parts of my library..
Sorry, I didn’t mean to get off on a tangent and turn this into a book review.
So, on to grilled cheese…
Ms. Adler recommends pre-cooking or preparing the greens as soon as you get them into your kitchen from the market or your garden. That way they are ready to finish quickly. Blanching also removes most of the bitterness from kale. So, I took her advice using the blanching instructions by Ms. Norsat. What a fabulous idea! The greens are ready to saute or add to a soup or other dish. A bonus is how much less space they take up in the fridge. You will see her simple instructions below.
Enter Friday night and the complete loss of ambition. Do you ever get like that? I couldn’t think of a single thing I really wanted to cook, and I write a food blog. With no energy to make a quick trip to the market, my husband suggested “Why don’t we just make grilled cheese?” It was a request to make me smile. Grilled cheese is one of my favorites, and not an everyday meal. It’s a special treat because we have cut down on both gluten and dairy, we don’t have either very frequently. This simple Friday night dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches became a special occasion. It was time to take a quick assessment of what was in the fridge and pantry. Earlier that afternoon we had picked up a loaf of wonderful seeded whole wheat bread from Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino. That already blanched kale added another layer of deliciousness and health. Rounding out my ingredient list was a package of thinly sliced prosciutto I found in the cheese drawer (kale pairs especially well with cured meats according to the The Flavor Bible), and a sharp white cheddar from the UK. It melted beautifully.
The combo elevated grilled cheese to a gourmet treat.
Just look at that melty cheese!
I used a panini press but a heavy skillet would work just as well.
To prepare your greens:
- Wash them if they have just come in from the garden or farmer’s market.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it liberally. Put a half sheet pan or baking dish next to the pot and line it with parchment paper.
- Drop the trimmed greens (strip off any tough stems) into the pot and bring it back to the boil.
- Cook until tender, my variety of kale only needed a couple of minutes. Chard may take up to 3 while collards could take as much as 15. Taste a sample to determine when they are tender.
- Using a sieve or spider to to pull the greens from the pot and spread them on your baking pan to cool.
- Once cool, squeeze out any excess water using your hands or a dishtowel.
- Chop them coarsely and store in the fridge until ready to use.
To prepare the sandwiches…
Ingrediens for 2:
- 4 slices of sturdy bread
- 4 thin slices of prosciutto or other deli meat
- 4 generous slices of a good sharp melting cheese
- about 1/3 cup of precooked kale per sandwich
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- butter or oil if frying in a pan
- Lay out two slices of bread, cover each with a layer of kale (sprinkled with a pinch of red pepper flakes), then prosciutto, then cheese. Cover with the second slice of bread.
- Grill or fry until the bread is crisp and cheese is melted.
The seeds were deliciously crunchy and flavorful. A green salad rounded out the meal.
I hope you have a wonderful weekend. This sandwich would also make a fabulous Saturday lunch, put an egg on it and it could be brunch.
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