February 27, 2024
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Good Garlic! Stop The Press!

Sautéed kale is ver­satile, the perfect side dish, dressed up with some crumbled feta, toasted pine nuts or al­mond slices, or served with an over-easy egg for a quick lunch or light dinner. It’s the quin­tessential dark, green vegetable, loaded with vitamins K, A, and C, and is known for its anti-oxidant as well as anti-inflammatory benefits. Two bunches of kale will render four side dish portions. Like many of its leafy cousins, it does cook down.

The recipe for sautéed kale is simplicity it­self. But the complexity of one key ingredient deserves fuller examination. Once you know more, you’ll never see garlic in quite the same way, no matter how you slice it.

Garlic’s use in savory dishes is often, and unfairly, divided into two categories: raw and cooked. We all know the pungent kick of crushed, raw garlic in a dressing. And we all know that as it cooks, the strong taste mel­lows. But the manner in which garlic is cut has a great deal of impact on the resulting flavors. Often, a recipe will call for chopped or minced garlic when, in fact, the thinnest slices would be infinitely better. The garlic press’s populari­ty has certainly made the crush far more ubiq­uitous than it ought to be.

Many home-cooks know the rich sweet­ness that whole cloves of garlic impart when slow cooked with a cut of meat such as brisket, or a long-simmering sauce. To draw out the same buttery sweetness while retaining gar­lic’s beautifully adjustable pungency, slice the cloves as thinly as possible and let them prac­tically dissolve as they are sautéed in hot—but not too hot—olive oil. Adding other ingredi­ents just at that translucent, melting stage will heighten the garlic’s warm flavor while subdu­ing its trademark pungency. In dishes such as this one for kale, the 15-minute simmer with stock allows the flavor to infuse the vegetable without overpowering it.

Garlic is a centuries-old culinary and cura­tive staple. Hippocrates hailed it as a sudorific medicine. From Roman favorite to European panacea, garlic has earned its place in history and in your kitchen. So stop mincing around and get to know your garlic; it’s more adapta­ble than you thought!

What You Need :

2 bunches of fresh kale, total about 20 leaves

4 large cloves garlic

¾ C. chicken stock (vegetable stock if serving alongside dairy)

¼ to ½ tsp. red pepper flakes

3 T. olive oil

Sharp paring knife

Large, high-sided (2 inches) sauté pan with lid or heavy bottomed pot with lid

Serving options: crumbled feta with squirt of fresh lemon; over-easy eggs; toasted nuts; hot side dish, cool salad. Have it your way!

What to Do:

Wash each kale leaf. Carefully remove the firm, center stem. Cut the tender leaves into 1-2 inch pieces.

Crushing the cloves as little as possible, re­move the skins. Slice the cloves as thinly as pos­sible. Aim for paper-thin.

Heat the olive oil in the pan and before it gets hot, add the red pepper flakes, then gar­lic slices. Keep the garlic moving, reducing the heat as necessary to render them translucent. The thinnest slices will practically melt. Do not let them brown. When they’ve reached that translucent point, add the chopped kale and stock. Raise heat to allow stock to bubble, then immediately reduce to medium and cover. The kale leaves should be done in 15 minutes. They ought to be tender and green. Dress it up, sit down and enjoy!

By Lisa Reitman Dobi

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