The first time in my life that I ate kale was approximately three years ago at Alias on the Lower East Side. A friend assured me that their kale would be a worthy starter to our dinner. I was skeptical.
Naturally, I’d heard of it before, but had always assigned it to the same category where I placed things like Wheat Grass Juice and hard boiled eggs: No Fun.
But this kale at Alias was transcendent! Crisp, light, savory, marvelous! I ate the whole damn plate and elbowed my friend out of the way when she tried to stick her fork in for even a single bite. I ordered more and hogged that plate too. A kale convert was born.
When I picked up my bundle of kale, I was convinced that I could somehow recreate the magic of Alias’ green wonder. Their kale was served shredded, with seemingly very little in the way of oil, and dotted with currants (I think?) and pine nuts (maybe?). Add to that a generous dusting of Parmesan and a dash of lemon juice and there you have it. Easy, I thought. Plus, I had pine nuts galore left over from my pesto experiment.
At any rate, those babies started to burn a bit, and did you know that pine nuts actually can pop and jump like you’re cooking popcorn? Me neither. I took one in the eye before I turned the heat down.
I tossed a bit more oil in the pan and then slapped a good deal of kale on top. I hadn’t shredded the kale, but after washing it had ripped it up considerably. I salted the hell out of everything, added my requisite ground black pepper, and kinda just shoved things around with a spatula.
I was pleased to note that the kale had turned a pleasant and appetizing bright green, though I had no idea when it would be “done.” I pushed things around for a while longer then transferred the whole shebang to a bowl. The pine nuts smelled good, the kale glistened in a way that made me hopeful.
Into the bowl went more salt, more pepper, a mess of currants and a hefty dose of freshly-squeezed lemon juice. As I sat down to taste the greens of my labor, I tossed a good pile of shredded Parmesan into the mix. One of my major life tenets is that everything is better with cheese. Ample cheese.
At first taste, this was no Alias kale, but it was good. At second taste, it was waaaaay over-salted. At third taste, I kinda liked it again. Then I mowed through more of it and realized that, yes, it was way to salty and had too much oil happening.
The kale was rather chewy and too toothsome for my liking. I think I should have shredded it. Perhaps a go-’round in the food processor wouldn’t have hurt. Despite my palate’s protestations, I finished off the majority of my heaping bowl of kale. I still have plenty more and those pine nuts, spendy as they are, should not go to waste. I will outshine Alias yet. — Kitchen of a Non-Cook