It’s hard to ignore the bushy plot of kale chugging along by the edge of the driveway. I see it every time I pull in. And when I think about cutting back on my grocery bill (you really would be shocked how much one person can spend!), it’s hard to justify purchasing other vegetables when I have so much in my garden. Unfortunately, right now, I just don’t have the variety. The Brussels sprouts are slow to come in, the salad greens aren’t yet producing enough to make a suitable salad, and the leeks just don’t quite count as a serving of vegetable for me.
So I’m eating lots and lots of kale.
When cleaning out my office the other day, I stumble across a recipe from Oleana that I had been intending to make for years! I live just down the street from this James Beard award winning restaurant, and for a while it was practically my second dining room. The Spicy Fideos dish is still one of my favorites! Reading the recipe, it calls for Swiss chard… I decided that Kale would be a suitable substitute, and into the kitchen I went.
The recipe reminds me of Mexican mole (with chocolate and chilies) and Thomas Keller’s Vanilla-Saffron Sauce. It blends all the intoxicating flavors and aromas of both into one luscious broth. The broth is then used to cook the kale, chick peas and noodles.
A few thoughts on the recipe: It recommends cooking the noodles directly in the broth. Too me, the broth became too gummy. I would recommend cooking the noodles for half the recommend time in salted boiling water (you should read Lydia's post about cooking pasta, GREAT tips) and then finish cooking them in the broth. The dish can become quite spicy with the anchos chilies. Because I was serving a few toddlers, I decided to omit the anchos and just added a pinch of cayenne to give it a little depth. And I used my first can of tomatoes for this recipe.
One other digression before I give you the recipe: A while back, I started a list of my ten favorite dishes from Boston-area restaurants. I got distracted, and never gave you my last 2 picks. Well, my friends, this is #9!
(Adapted from Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean by Ana Sortun)
1 tbs. canola oil
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
Pinch of saffron
¼ cup white wine
1” piece of vanilla bean, split in half
½ tsp. coriander
½ tsp. ground fennel
1 ancho chili (substitute a pinch of cayenne for a milder sauce)
1 can tomatoes
½ tbs. cocoa powder
4 cups water
1 can chick peas
1 bunch kale or Swiss chard
½ pound angel hair pasta or fideos
Salt and pepper
1. In a large pot, add oil. Sauté onions, garlic and carrots until they begin to soften. Add saffron, vanilla, coriander, fennel and chili. Cook for 1 minute more to aromatize the spice.
2. Deglaze pan with wine and add tomatoes, cocoa powder and water.
3. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 35 minutes or until vegetables are very soft.
4. Meanwhile, wash kale, and chop.
5. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season generously with salt. Crush noodles with your hands. Cook noodles for half of the recommended package time. Drain, rinse under colder water and set aside.
6. Remove vanilla bean. Let broth cool to room temperature (otherwise pureeing it will be challenging)
7. Puree broth until very smooth.
8. Return broth to the pan and reheat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the greens, chick peas and noodles. Cook until the greens are wilted and tender, about 5 minutes.