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Ottolenghi Does a Strange, Genius Thing For More Delicious Kale

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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.

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Yotam Ottolenghi & Ramael Scully’s Burnt Green Onion Dip with Curly Kale
Yotam Ottolenghi & Ramael Scully’s Burnt Green Onion Dip with Curly Kale

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.

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Yotam Ottolenghi & Ramael Scully’s Burnt Green Onion Dip with Curly Kale

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Serves 6 to 8

For the green onion dip:

  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 1/4 ounces green onions (12 to 14), ends trimmed, then sliced in half lengthwise (3 3/4 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sunflower oil (or other neutral oil)
  • 2/3 cup cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Coarse sea salt and black pepper

For the kale:

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 large fresh red chiles, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/4 pounds curly kale, washed, tough stems removed, cut widthwise into 1 1/2-inch slices (1 pound)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
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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!