Kale, Kale the Flavor's All Here!

In Vegetarian or Meatless Monday Dishes

Cold weather kale is getting a taste makeover. 

If you remember kale as a boiled-to-death vegetable 
in a one-pot meal, then here’s a surprising twist. 

Kale can be crunchy and absolutely delicious.

Lacinato Kale
Crunchy Kale
Adapted from Heartland: The Cookbook. This tastes great served like potato chips or as a side dish.

Kale Ready for the Oven

1 bunch kale, such as curly, Lacinato, Russian, or Dino
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup freshly grated Asiago, Parmesan, or Gruyere
1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
2. Trim the tough ends from the kale and cut the leaves into 1-inch pieces. Arrange on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and toss to blend.
3. Bake for 10 minutes, then open the oven door and stir the kale with a wooden spoon. Bake for another 10 minutes, then open the door again and sprinkle the kale with the grated cheese. Bake for a final 30 minutes or until the kale is crunchy.

Crunchy Kale

This fall, I’ve done several cooking classes around the country, serving up simmering soups and a fabulous flatbread that features crunchy kale as a topping.
The flatbread is easy to do--especially if you have a bowl of dough on hand in the fridge--and can turn a Meatless Monday into a “Can’t Wait” occasion.

Easy Artisan Dough Makes bread, rolls, pizza, or flatbread
Adapted from 200 Fast & Easy Artisan Breads.  
2 tbsp  instant or bread machine yeast         
1 ½ tbsp           fine kosher salt          
6 1/2 cups       all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting       
3 cups  lukewarm water, about 100°F           
1. Mix. Add the yeast and salt to the flours. Stir together with a wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk. Pour in the water and stir together until just moistened. Beat 40 strokes, scraping the bottom and the sides of the bowl, until the dough forms a lumpy, sticky mass.
2. Rise. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature 72°F for 2 hours or until the dough has risen near the top of the bowl and has a sponge-like appearance.
4. Use Right Away or Refrigerate. Use that day or place the dough, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 9 days before baking.

Flatbread with Crispy Kale, Black Olives, and Goat Cheese
Makes 1 flatbread to serve 16 as an appetizer
½ recipe prepared Easy Artisan Dough
Unbleached, all-purpose flour for dusting
4 tbsp  olive oil, divided use
8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
½ cup chopped, pitted Kalamata olives
1 pound fresh kale, leaves torn from the stems       
2 cups hot water for broiler pan

1. Form. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. To form the flatbread, remove half of the dough with a serrated knife and a dough scraper. The remaining dough in the bowl will deflate somewhat. Transfer the dough portion to a floured surface. Flour the dough and your hands. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Working the dough as little as possible and adding flour as necessary, pat the dough into to fit the pan. Lightly flour any sticky places on the dough. The dough should feel soft and smooth all over, like a baby’s skin, but not at all sticky.
2. Rest.  Cover with a tea towel and let rest at room temperature for 40 minutes.
3. Prepare Oven for Artisan Baking. About 30 minutes before baking, place a broiler pan on the lower shelf and a baking stone on the middle shelf of the oven. Preheat to 450°F (230 °C).
4. Top Flatbread. When ready to bake, the dough will not have risen much, but will finish rising dramatically in the oven. Pour 2 tbsp of the olive oil into a bowl and with the kale until the kale leaves are shiny. Arrange the kale on the dough and top with crumbled goat cheese and black olives. Drizzle with remaining olive oil.
5. Slide Flatbread onto Baking Stone and Add Water to Broiler Pan. Using an oven mitt, carefully pull the middle rack of the oven out several inches. Place the pan of flatbread on the hot stone. Pull the lower rack out, pour the hot water into the broiler pan, and push the lower rack back in place. Close the oven door immediately so the steam will envelop the oven.
6. Bake.  Bake for 27 to 30 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned. Transfer to a rack to cool.

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