Trent Pierce's Miso-Creamed Kale

November 20, 2013

Every week -- often with your help -- Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: Creamed greens were always comfort food, but now they don't need the steak on the side. 

Trent Pierce's Miso Creamed Kale on Food52

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Creamed spinach -- let's own it -- is just an excuse to eat swirls of cream.

The greens are almost an afterthought to get it to sit up on the plate, a thickening agent. You could be eating creamed mesclun -- would you know the difference?

Trent Pierce's Miso Creamed Kale on Food52

And there's nothing wrong with that. Some go to the steakhouse for the sides alone. But there's so much potential to tease out from the presence of a good green, and add even more dignity to cream's noble head start. 

Enter: kale. Specifically, lacinato. Unlike spinach, it doesn't lose its structure, and shrink into pudding.

Trent Pierce's Miso Creamed Kale on Food52

You've met kale, right? It's that thing you ate for lunch the past three days. But while we usually pigeonhole it into salads and smoothies, this is kale for the holidays. (Thanks for letting us borrow your kale for a minute, juice cleansers, we'll try not to get too much cream on it.)

More: 8 (Actually Different) Kale Salads

Trent Pierce on Food52

The recipe comes from Portland chef Trent Pierce, and its name alone shows off three major attractions: miso, cream, kale.

Any one of these is more than reason enough to pay attention -- but they just keep coming after that. Food52er deensiebat said it best: "I realize that it's not hard to love a dish with cream, booze, miso, and soy-cooked mushrooms. But still: Best. Kale. Ever." 

Making it is as simple as any other sautéed green, despite its fanciness and glowing reputation.

Here's what you do:

De-rib and trim down to size an enormous bunch of kale, or two smaller ones. (Here's how.)

Trent Pierce's Miso Creamed Kale on Food52  Trent Pierce's Miso Creamed Kale on Food52

Sauté shallots and garlic, then heap and heap in your kale. This is not a stir-fry, it's an exercise in pile management.

Trent Pierce's Miso Creamed Kale on Food52

Trent Pierce's Miso Creamed Kale on Food52

Meanwhile, there is a butter-mushroom-soy experience that will go down in a separate pan. This will be your dressy topping, and will test the limits of how much umami you can use to gird a single dish.

Trent Pierce's Miso Creamed Kale on Food52  Trent Pierce's Miso Creamed Kale on Food52

Trent Pierce's Miso Creamed Kale on Food52  Trent Pierce's Miso Creamed Kale on Food52

Trent Pierce's Miso Creamed Kale on Food52  Trent Pierce's Miso Creamed Kale on Food52

Finally, pour in some dry vermouth, scrape around and watch it steam away.

 Trent Pierce's Miso Creamed Kale on Food52

And work in your cream and miso. 

Trent Pierce's Miso Creamed Kale on Food52  Trent Pierce's Miso Creamed Kale on Food52
Trent Pierce's Miso Creamed Kale on Food52

Where cream alone could blur, vermouth and miso lay their anchors; where butter gets rich, soy battens down. It's a little too much, and just right at the same time. Just like the holidays. 

It would pretty great for any winter dinner party, or a night alone with a glass or two of sturdy red wine. 

And of course, it fits right in sidled up next to a nice slab of roast beef or turkey -- you'll just need a lot less gravy.

Trent Pierce's Miso Creamed Kale on Food52


Trent Pierce's Miso-Creamed Kale

Adapted slightly from Oregon Live (January, 2012)

Serves 4, as a side

3 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch lacinato kale, or 2 smaller ones, stems removed, roughly chopped
1/2 cup shimeji mushrooms with stems, or shiitake mushroom tops
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup dry vermouth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon white (shiro) miso, or more to taste

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom, Trent Pierce photo by EaterPDX

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Renee Thompson
    Renee Thompson
  • suzi
  • Beautiful, Memorable Food
    Beautiful, Memorable Food
  • soleilnyc
  • Regine
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."


Renee T. May 21, 2016
This was fantastic and the flavor profile was a hit among my friends. I I typically don't enjoy cooked greens, but I thought this was fantastic (albeit a bit heavy from the cream) . I agree that it's a good winter dish. I used Tuscan Kale (almost always available at Trader Joe's). I will add more mushrooms next time! Thanks for a great recipe.
suzi December 1, 2013
I commented below, but just a note; in case you aren't familiar with miso paste, it is quite salty all by itself. That and the soy sauce together, will make your dish salty enough - especially if you don't use enough Kale, or cream. If you are sensitive to salt, use a bit more kale, and a bit (not a lot) more cream (or coconut cream like I did.) I was also "generous" with my shiitakes. One more note; don't cook the Kale down too much in the first step, then you won't have a "gooey" mess at the end. Keep the kale at the "just wilted" step in the beginning. This really IS a great recipe done up carefully. Cheers!
Beautiful, M. December 1, 2013
This was a star at Thanksgiving. I used sherry instead of vermouth (because that was what I had) and it was lovely.
soleilnyc November 30, 2013
So I made this for Thanksgiving with a baby chard,kale and spinach mix (3lbs). They cooked down to nothing and didn't really hold up texturally. It also ended up really salty, though the men seemed to love that. I'm sure that it would have been much better with grown kale!
I took the leftovers the next day, did up more mushrooms and tossed them with pasta. It was delicious and ended up the perfect amount of seasoning!
suzi November 30, 2013
This was sooo delicious! Even a non-kale lover wanted more, which was kind of funny. I don't use dairy, so I had to sub full fat, pure (in the can) high quality coconut milk. Also, I used dried shiitakes, which I rehydrated the day before in fresh pure water, then rinsed and squeezed dry. Otherwise, I followed the recipe exactly, and it turned out "oh so yummy". We ate it all, so I will make some more tomorrow. Thanks SO much for this recipe! ;-)
Regine November 25, 2013
This is great Kristen. Thanks so much. I basically try to make all of your Genious recipes; and I look forward to them.
Regine November 25, 2013
Soleilnyc, I am thinking of trying this recipe once with Spinach, but since Spinach cooks unbelievabley fast (unlike Kale), I might need to add it last minute and after having reduced the cream.
Regine November 25, 2013
I did this last night after going to 3 different Asian stores to find the Miso. I finally found it in the refrigerated section. I bought a Japanese organic white miso. This was my first time using this product that I had never heard from before. I am happy to see that I like it and I will use it for a new recipe that I see online for "miso soup." Regarding the Kale dish itself, I must admit that it was just OK and a bit too salty (although I did not add any salt). But maybe it is because I failed at doing 2 things. First, I should have cooked it much longer; this was my first time cooking Kale and did not realize that it does take much longer to cook than spinach. I did cook it for 10 minutes or so though. Second, the recipe asks for 1 large bunch of lacinato Kale or 2 smaller ones; I only used one thinking that mine was large enough. Maybe if I had used 2, my dish would have been less salty. Maybe, I will try it again. Thanks for sharing.
Kristen M. November 25, 2013
Hi Regine, thanks so much for your notes -- I just updated the recipe for a bit more clarity on the amount of kale, and moved all seasoning with salt to the end to prevent from oversalting. Hope you have fun experimenting with your miso!
soleilnyc November 24, 2013
Has anyone tried this with other greens? Is a baby kale/chard mix sturdy enough to stand up to this treatment, do you think? Spinach?
tastysweet November 23, 2013
Made this last night. I did not have the miso so added some anchovy paste. This was a fantastic side dish to our dinner. Will try miso next time when I can locate the white.
But great recipe. Followed it exactly sans miso. Thanks for sharing.
emcsull November 23, 2013
There have been lots of comments about the miso, I did a dogs dinner version of this with just what I had around - red miso, brown champignons, sweetish white wine - and it was really good. Found the kale a bit tough, though, probably had the wrong kind.
tastysweet November 23, 2013
I found that I had to cook the kale a lot longer than recipe called for. I used the type mentioned in the recipe. So just kept cooking it until it was at just the right stage. It was so so good.
hulasweets November 23, 2013
Vegan substitute for the heavy cream - coconut milk. The kind from the can, not the boxed. And if you want a cheesier taste, sprinkle on nutritional yeast after it's off the stove and on your plate.
tastysweet November 21, 2013
Having trouble locating white miso near me. Any substitutions?
Kristen M. November 21, 2013
You can use any other miso you can get your hands on, but just remember that darker ones tend to be stronger and saltier and start with a bit less.
tastysweet November 21, 2013
Problem: Fresh Market carried one type(not white) but it was a large soft package and $11.00. I don't know what I would do with the rest of it. But thanks.
Karen G. November 22, 2013
Miso lasts forever in the frig, kinda like a bottle of catsup. Any time you need to add broth or saltiness to a dish, scoop out a spoonful (with or without added water). You'll go through that bag in no time.
tastysweet November 22, 2013
Thanks for your answers. One problem was that the package did not state what type of miso it was. i think I can look on the web to find out what each color is fermented with to determine what it actually is.
kristen November 20, 2013
This looks fabulous!! I need to make more miso and I also want to try making red miso.
Zahava W. November 20, 2013
i have never seen a kale recipe this good! i just want to devour it! i haven't had creamed spinach in over 20 years.. but wow! cant wait to make this tomorrow! thanks a million!
christinemayre November 20, 2013
as far as vermouth sub try rice wine vinegar. As for mushrooms, why do you need a replacement? just leave it out. add tofu if you must:)
Hollyanne November 20, 2013
Any suggestions for what you could substitute for the mushrooms?
kmcook November 20, 2013
I don't think you'd necessarily need mushrooms or anything, but if you had to add something, a similar texture could be tofu.
Sara G. November 20, 2013
I'm going to try using cashew cream for this recipe later this week - I'll let you know Carol!
Carol R. November 20, 2013
Great Sara - it sounds good. If it is, please email me the cashew cream recipe if you don't mind.
Claire D. November 20, 2013
I would love to have the cashew cream recipe as well, if possible. Thanks!
Pamela November 22, 2013
I just rewrote this recipe with cashew sauce, then read your suggestion for the same. I think Cannelini beans would be a great addition or substitution for mushrooms, especially if "carmelized" with the miso. Check out The Engine Two Cook book or My Beef with Meat. Great ideas for "plant strong", low fat, no dairy cooking!! There's a cashew recipe.
Sara G. November 22, 2013
Here's my standard recipe for cashew cream:
emcsull November 20, 2013
OK, I'll bite. How much kale are we actually talking about, in terms of weight ?
jbban November 21, 2013
I second this request! We really need weights given the variety in sizes of bunches.
tastysweet November 21, 2013
I 3rd the request. I am always asking for weights.
Kristen M. November 21, 2013
I can't find my notes on the weights of bunches I've used, but there are other factors at play -- how much you trim away, how much you let the kale cook down, etc. The most important things are adjusting the seasoning to taste at the end, and not oversalting early on. I do recall that I've loved this with anywhere from 4-6 packed cups of kale, chopped in large bite-sized pieces. (I like doing this with a lot of kale, to stretch the amazing sauce further.) Hope that helps!
emcsull November 21, 2013
cups are GOOD, this is very helpful for me, thanks
tastysweet November 21, 2013
Ditto for cups. Much thanks. Though couldn't locate white miso. I may add anchovy paste which someone suggested on the web. I will try and report back. Making this tomorrow to have with our grilled steak. Husband's birthday.
Kristen M. November 21, 2013
See my comment above -- hope he loves it! (And you do too.)
hardlikearmour November 20, 2013
This is going on my TG menu ASAP!
kmcook November 20, 2013
Any substitute for vermouth?