DG and I sat down to this for dinner recently and in mid bite I realized what was a complete AP-er* turned out to be an amazing dinner. I pulled my camera out right away because I knew I simply had to share this with you. A seemingly empty fridge ended up inspiring me to cook this fabulous recipe inspired by something I'd come across online and a recipe from the Zuni Cafe cookbook for the best way of cooking kale that I know. I use this technique often to make boring winter greens like kale soft and inviting.
A simple dinner of winter greens and pantry staples like dried morels and polenta provided a nourishing, incredibly tasty dinner on a rainy Vancouver evening. When you walk by the kale in the grocery store this week and think "I never know what do do with this", pick it up because this will transform your view of this under appreciated vegetable. And this might also be your last chance to enjoy it. When that asparagus starts showing up on sale, we all know that kale won't be holding your attention.
Oh, and if you need a little more substance, I highly recommend topping it with a poached or fried egg for an even more perfect meal.
*DG's term for things I cook with limited resources. See if you can figure out what the AP stands for.
Kale and Morel Mushrooms with Creamy Polenta
adapted from Bon Appetit magazine
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cups water
1 cup polenta
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
1 bunch kale, stemmed, cut into 1-inch ribbons
2 ounces pancetta (Italian bacon) or bacon, coarsely chopped
4 ounces dried morels, soaked in 1 cup hot water for 30 minutes then reserve liquid
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp grated lemon peel
2 Tbsp cream
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Bring milk, water, polenta, salt, and pepper to boil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thick, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. The polenta should start to pull away from the pan and not be gritty at all. Add more hot water as needed to keep a creamy consistency. Reduce heat to lowest and cover.
Meanwhile, cook pancetta in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels. Add kale, some salt and 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Then add mushrooms, saute for a few minutes until tender. Add garlic, mushroom broth, thyme and pancetta. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook stirring from time to time for about 20 minutes, adding a little water if necessary. It should stay rather soupy. Stir lemon peel, cream and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Whisk butter and Parmesan into polenta and divide among plates. Top with kale mixture.
1.I love creamy polenta as a base for soupy ragouts such as this, but for an even simpler dinner, slice up a log of precooked polenta and put it under the broiler until crispy.
2. If you can't find any dried morels, fresh criminis will work as well.