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Some Ale with My Kale

June 22, 2011

Yep that’s right….more kale.  I hope none of you have a serious dislike for the stuff, since it seems lately that I post about it like every other day.  I’m finally getting around to harvesting most of my current crop so it’s heavy kale action today…you could say it’s my  ‘holy grail of kale’ posts. 

Fresh harvest of kale

Well actually it is the ‘holy ale of kale’ post.  I’ve been sipping on some tasty locally (as in Iowa local) brewed Pastime Ale from Madhouse Brewing Company.  Found it on sale today at the grocery store.  It’s definitely not uncommon to find me with a beer nearby when I’m working in the garden or kitchen or just sitting on my behind too. 😉

Madhouse Beer Pastime

The majority of my big ‘ol crop (not crap, leafy green haters) of kale gets to go to the freezer and the rest included in a delish pasta dish for supper. 

Kale ready to be blanched

Freezing Kale (or other greens too)

I typically follow this source when freezing greens. 

First up give your kale leaves a good wash.  Then trim with a knife or kitchen scissors, cutting the thick part of the stem off.  A quick rough chop and your ready to blanch.  Heck if you’re prefer quickness over neatness go ahead and rip ’em apart with your hands.

Why blanch?  It kills the enzymes & bacteria in the kale that would eventually break down nutrients resulting in mushy, bitter greens.  No one wants any of that, right?

To blanch you need a large pot of boiling water with lid, a large bowl of ice water and a strainer.  Throw a big bunch of kale into the boiling water and cover, cooking for exactly two minutes.  I did approximately 8 cups of packed kale per round.  Then immediately transfer cooked kale to ice-cold water and cool for two minutes as well.  Drain thoroughly…I like to use my salad spinner and then lay flat on towels. 

Kale drying after blanch

To freeze place desired quantity into freezer bags, making sure to get as much air out as possible to prevent freezer burn.  I close the bag most of the way and stick a straw in the end to suck out remaining air.  Though if you have a foodsaver…for goodness sakes use that!  Sadly I do not. 

I went with quart size bags with the hope that one bag will be the right amount for a side of sautéed greens or addition to soups.  My harvest gave me (2) 6+ cup and (2) 4+ cup baggies of kale.

Kale in quart bags to freeze

Last but not least, throw your bags in the freezer.  And pat yourself on the back for preparing fresh food that will be available when its 20 degrees outside with a foot of snow on your garden this winter…I know I did.

Let’s stop and think about this for a second.  With my spring crop of kale I produced four bags to freeze and enjoy at a later date.  I can’t say I know what a similar sized bag of frozen kale costs at the grocery store.  2 bucks at least? Anyone?  I paid $2.75 for a pack of seeds.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that 4 bags plus several fresh eaten servings makes a good deal.  Not to mention the nutrients are at the peak when these leaves only traveled 25 feet to the kitchen.  Oh and kale usually likes the fall season best…so there’s whole other season worth of crop yet to come this year.  Just sayin’. 

And of course I had to save some fresh kale to include with tonight’s dinner.  I’ve been anxiously waiting to try my sun-dried tomato flavored fettucine purchased at the farmer’s market  in a simple  pasta dish. 

Sun-Dried Tomato Fettucine with Bacon, Kale & Fresh Mozzarella

1 pkg Papparedelle’s Sun-Dried Tomato Fettucine (or 8oz of whole wheat pasta)

4 slices of bacon

1 T olive oil

1/4 cup finely chopped shallots

3 cloves minced garlic

4 cups roughly chopped kale

1/2 cup fresh mozzarella pearls or chunks

1 T lemon juice

Chopped basil

INgredients for pasta dish

Cook pasta in boiling water according to directions.  Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.

Cook bacon until crisp, drain and crumble when cooled.  Reserve 1 T of bacon grease with 1 T of olive oil and saute shallot (or onion) a few minutes on low (pan will be hot from bacon grease).  Add minced garlic and saute another minute.  Add kale and cook  on until tender and greatly reduced in volume.  Stir in 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water and 1 T lemon juice and simmer a couple of minutes. 

Remove from heat and add pasta, crumbled bacon and fresh mozzarella.  Stir all together, adding salt & pepper to taste.  Top with basil and serve warm. 

If you use a whole wheat pasta be sure to add some chopped sun-dried tomatoes for the tomato flavor.

Not too shabby!

Sun-dried tomato pasta with kale, bacon and mozzarella

Do you like kale?  Any favorite recipes?

I’m sharing this post with A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Terry permalink
    June 22, 2011 7:42 pm

    Very cool Lis. I’m so proud of you!

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