I have been trying to incorporate more dark leafy green vegetables into our meals lately, not only for health reasons, but for the taste too. Spinach and Swiss chard are standards for me, but lately I’ve been playing around a lot with the kale family and cavolo nero, a type of dark leafed, loose cabbage. Kale is a bit tough, so I like to blanch it before stir frying it, adding to soups, and so on.
This is a complete meal-in-one recipe, that also cooks in one pan for less cleanup. It’s great hot or cold, so it makes an interesting non-traditional bento. Make it for dinner, and bring leftovers for lunch! Besides the kale, it also features tiny new potatoes that are sold around here at this time — they are popular for Christmas dinners. New potatoes have a subtle iron taste that complements the similar taste present in kale. If you can’t find new potatoes where your are, substitute firm, ‘waxy’ type potatoes rather than the floury baked potato type. Dried cranberries are added for a touch of sweetness, which fits very well with the kale. And, it has chunky bacon or panchetta or lardons in it, because you know, everything is better with bacon.
This recipe is featured in Bento No. 70 .
Makes 4 servings, enough for dinner for two plus bentos the day after
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Wash the kale, and rip off the leaves. If you have very long leaves you may want to cut them in half or thirds so they fit in the pot. Put the kale in the boiling water and cook for 4-5 minutes. Drain, and refresh under cold running water. Take bunches of the cooked kale and squeeze out as much water out of them as you can. Chop up finely. (You may want to do this part in advance to save time - the chopped kale will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator.)
In the meantime, scrub the new potatoes and cut them into half. If you’re using regular potatoes, peel and cut into chunks.
Put the bacon cubes in a large frying pan, and fry them over medium heat until they are crispy-brown on the outside. Take the bacon out, wipe out most of the bacon fat with a paper towel if there’s a lot there, and add the garlic and potatoes. Saute for 5-6 minutes over high heat, until the potatoes are lightly browned. Add 2 cups of water to the pan, and put a lid on. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Add the chopped kale, and stir and season with salt, pepper and soy sauce. Add the cranberries, and put the lid back on. Let it cook over medium-low heat for another 10 minutes. The garlic cloves should be soft enough to just mash up at this point; do so and stir it into the kale.
Serve hot or cold. If packing in a bento box, let it cool first.