The produce shift to fall (despite recent wild fires and 80 degree heat here in southern california) continues, with the first appearance of mandarin oranges and tuscan black kale at our local market. The mandarin’s were good, but still needing a bit of time on the trees to get sweeter. But the black kale is killer. I found a stack of small bunches of it, a third the size of the mid season stuff, hiding at the Asian greens stand, amongst the Thai basil and bird chiles and Chinese broccoli.
I bought 3 small bunches for 3 bucks and plan to feed it to my kids in its purest form: blanched then sauteed in hot olive oil with a bit of garlic. We’ll salt it a tad, and then finish it with slightest squeeze of lemon, and grate real Parmigianno over it and serve it up hot alongside some rigatoni Bolognese.
And I’ll tell my kids exactly what we’re eating. I’ll tell them how it’s called Tuscan black kale and I’ll tell them how it’s different from other kales: sweeter, nuttier, with a silky texture. And maybe I’ll tell them about Tuscany and how beautiful it is and how I’ve eaten some of the best food of my life there, and I’ll tell them how we’ll go there together some day as a family. And maybe I’ll tell that them Tuscan Kale is also called Dinosaur Kale, because of how it looks, and that might make them like it more. And if they still don’t like the sauteed Kale, the next time around I’ll give it another shot in a dish that includes flavors and ingredients they love: lasagna. I’ll use fresh mozzarella and grated mozzarella, and an simple sauce of canned san marzano tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil, and maybe even some sweet Italian sausage. And I’ll blanch the kale, and chop it up, and layer it along with the cheese and tomato sauce. And I’ll still tell them that there’s kale in there. And maybe then they’ll love the kale. Or maybe not (but usually they do eventually). But I’m sure as hell not going to put it in a brownie. I’m usually not the kind of guy who quotes Keats, but the line “truth is beauty and beauty is truth” comes to mind. Unless, of course, you’re Jessica Seinfeld.