“How do you eat this thing?”

We’ve been getting a lot of kale in our CSA (Home Grown Kansas) over  the weeks. The first week we got it I’m pretty sure I exclaimed, “That’s the biggest leaf I’ve ever seen. How do you eat this thing?”

Not knowing what kale was or how to even go about cooking it, I started searching the Internet for recipes. From all the photos that came up, none of them looked that appetizing (because that’s how I choose what I’m going to cook.) Almost giving up and using it for a salad, one caught my eye with bright green kale and contrasting colors of red pepper flakes with a simple touch of Parmesan cheese. I couldn’t wait to try this recipe.

Garlicky Greens
from 101Cookbooks.com

1 large bunch of kale, chard
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
fine grain sea salt
5 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (opt)
crushed red pepper flakes

To de-stem each leaf of chard/kale, grab the main stalk in one hand and strip the leaf from the stem all the way up with the other. I then tear the big leaves into bite-sized pieces, but you can use a knife for this task if you prefer. Wash the greens in a big bowl (or sink) full of clean water, rinsing and swishing to rinse away any stubborn grit and dirt. Drain, rinse again, and set aside.

Hold off cooking the greens until just before eating. Then, in a large skillet heat the olive oil. Add a couple big pinches of salt and the greens. They should hiss and spit a bit when they hit the pan. Stir continuously until their color gets bright green, and they just barely start to collapse – two, three, maybe four minutes, depending on how hot your pan is and how much structure your greens have. Then, just thirty seconds before you anticipate pulling the skillet off of the heat, stir in the garlic. Sauté a bit, remove the pan from the heat, stir in the Parmesan, and add a big pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. Taste, add a bit of salt if needed, and serve immediately if not sooner.

*My notes on cooking this recipe:
-Less oil might be better. I didn’t realize how much oil the Kale would soak up, so it ended up a little greasy.
-Don’t cook it too long. It becomes mushy and watery if you don’t stop when it’s a bit crispy.

For the main dish I had fresh thyme to use. So what’s better than grilled lemon thyme chicken? The juice of the chicken and lemon melding with the subtle thyme was the perfect dish to eat with the Kale.

Lemon Thyme Chicken

-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 tablespoon lemon juice
-1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
-2 cloves garlic minced

Mix oil, lemon juice, thyme and garlic. Place chicken in shallow baking dish and cover with mixture. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat grill. Place chicken on grill and cook until done. About 12-14 minutes, turning once. Chicken breasts should be tender and juices clear.

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