Ottolenghi Does a Strange, Genius Thing For More Delicious Kale

January 25, 2017

If most people told you that what your kale was missing was just a few blobs of onion dip, you’d probably nod kindly and then just go back to eating greens in all your usual ways, forgetting that the conversation had ever happened.

But when Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully—chefs who've taught us to yoke vegetables in so many unexpectedly wonderful ways—are the ones telling you, you pause.

Does it sound a little weird, dip in kale? Oh, sure. But so does sautéing chickpeas in baking soda, or saucing tofu with five tablespoons of black pepper, other Ottolenghisms that we’ve learned to love. Here is why it all works so well, despite every indication otherwise.

This kale isn’t just wilted like any old green—you sauté it quickly, with a lot of toasted garlic and chiles. “Slices of fried red chile and thin slivers of garlic are like old Ottolenghi friends,” says the recipe's headnote in NOPI, the cookbook where this dish is tucked.

Then you douse the kale in lemon juice—so the whole mess ends up spicy and loud and quite resilient, a place where swooping your fork through smokey trails of cool cream is welcome, even needed.

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More muted flavors wouldn’t require cold dip to soothe; a mushier texture would not invite more mush on top. But this is one hot, twisted pile of green and the answer, quite sensibly as it turns out, is dip.

You can channel this new information in a few different ways: “Make just the dip if you want to keep things simple,” Ottolenghi and Scully write. With charred scallions and roasted garlic, it’s a sultry spin on the classic onion dip, and little trouble to make.

Stir it together for any football- or award show-related party, when people will be expecting dip to go with cold beer and anxiety/excitement/boredom. But hold some of said dip back, so you can use it to calm down your kale later in the week.

Or you can take this concept and run with whatever other dips are on hand, rather than scraping at them with the sad potato chips your friends left at the bottom of the bag. Spinach dip on your rapini? Pimento cheese on your roasted squash? Baba ghanoush on your spicy slaw? All signs point to yes.

Or, of course, you can make this whole recipe from start to finish for any dinner where you want to get people talking. Serve it with meeker proteins like roast chicken or hard-cooked eggs or lentils, or feistier ones like lamb chops or hanger steaks, or even as the main event. With extra bread for dipping. And, because its dip for dinner—plenty of cold beer.

Photos by James Ransom

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Perhaps a genius dessert? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]. Thank you to our Partnerships Editor Samantha Weiss Hills for this one!

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I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."