Tuscan Kale, also known as Dinosaur Kale, Lacinato Kale and Black Cabbage, has become an obsession of mine over the past few months. The farmers markets in Brooklyn are chock full of all kinds of kale right now and each bunch never costs more than a few dollars. Kale is unquestionably one of the hardiest and most resilient of leafy green vegetables, as it has no trouble withstanding frost and cold weather. And, from a nutritional standpoint, kale is a superstar. It contains powerful antioxidant properties and is widely considered to be an anti-inflammatory. It is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K and vitamin C and even contains a respectable amount of calcium (yes, that is without the addition of cream or cheese!).
While I have yet to come across a variety of kale that I don't love, Tuscan Kale happens to be my hands-down favorite. Not only is it the easiest to use, but it also the most versatile and has a wonderfully mild flavor. It is fairly easy to spot at the market with it's long, deep green, lumpy looking leaves.
Tuscan Kale can be used in a variety of ways, including raw, but the two ways I am going to highlight today are roasted and braised. Enjoy!
1 bunch of Tuscan kale
salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Rinse the kale leaves, dry well by patting with paper towels and half the leaves lengthwise (discarding the stem running up the center of the leaf). Coat leaves lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the leaves for about 20-25 minutes until crispy.
Fettuccine With Braised Kale, Ricotta Salata & Pine Nuts
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 c. chicken stock
1/4 c. grated parmesan reggiano
1/2 c. crumbled ricotta salata
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water (it should taste like seawater) to a boil. Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet until lightly browned and remove from heat. Remove course stems from kale and discard. Slice leaves into 1" thick strips. Wash but do not dry. Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over med-low heat. Add shallots and cook about 2 minutes until beginning to soften. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and saute until garlic just starts to become fragrant. Add the kale with water clinging to it and stir to wilt. Add the chicken stock, cover and braise kale for about 10 minutes until very tender. Remove cover and stir in butter.
While kale is braising, cook fettuccine. When fettuccine is done, using tongs, carefully pull the pasta out of the cooking water and slosh into the pot of kale. Add in grated parmesan and pine nuts. Add some of the starchy pasta water if sauce is dry. Adjust seasoning. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with crumbled ricotta salata.