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You may have eaten your weight in kale in the past few years (or few days), but you haven't had kale like this. It's the perfect antidote, the next time you have raw greens fatigue. It might be the only way you want to eat kale ever again.
(I should back up: You haven't had kale like this unless you've ordered the long-cooked cavolo nero at one of Suzanne Goin's L.A. restaurants or stumbled across it via her latest cookbook or on the internet, which admittedly could be many of you.)
The experience could not be further on the spectrum from kale salad—rather than not cooking it at all, Goin cooks it to death, to the point that the very kale itself is deeply caramelized. It turns nearly black, frizzled, a little chewy and a little crispy, with an earthy sweetness that only comes out after a good thirty minutes of slow-cooking (trust me—I like to stand next to the pot sampling).
To get it there, Goin first quickly blanches, then wrings out the kale to relieve it of most of its moisture and hustle it along in cooking. (This shortcut is much like the genius technique in Roy Finamore's Broccoli Cooked Forever.)
Then she sautés the wrung kale in a whole lot of olive oil, onions, garlic, dried chiles, and rosemary for as long as she can.
"I love this on its own," Goin wrote to me. "Or sometimes I'll stir-fry it with some chewy grains, like farro, or some squash or sweet potato." She notes that it will also work with mustard greens, or any other stiffer greens that take their sweet time to break down. But Tuscan kale remains her favorite.
Bon Appétit originally published this recipe as a base to get mixed into stuffing, though it seems most people never make it there. Sara Forte at Sprouted Kitchen uses it as an omelette filling with goat cheese and Alexandra Stafford stretches it with breadcrumbs, pancetta, and a poached egg. Here, I stuck it on top of soba noodles with a medium-cooked egg and extra chiles.
"This is one recipe that we can never take off our menu at a.o.c. because everyone requests it," Suzanne told me.
But the headnote in the a.o.c. cookbook reveals a slightly different story. "This cavolo nero preparation has become a house staple at all of my restaurants," she writes. "Another recipe on the 'Suzanne likes to have this constantly available to eat so we can't take it off the menu' list."
- 1 pound cavolo nero (Tuscan kale, about 4 small bunches), cleaned, center ribs removed
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small sprig rosemary
- 2 dried chiles de árbol, broken into large pieces
- 1 cup sliced onion
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]. Thank you to Associate Editor Ali Slagle for this one!
Photos by James Ransom