The recipe this week isn't about a specific recipe but more about the great options that are available for kale stems, the often discarded fibrous sticks that you tear the green leaves from. I have three go to options for kale stems. Sautee, pickle and skewer. —The Perennial Plate
Sautee. This is the best option, and really there isn't much of an excuse for not doing this, as it adds flavor, nutrition and texture to your usual kale stir fry. A lot of recipes start with sauteing onions or garlic in fat. In stead of cooking the onion alone, finely dice the kale stems and cook with the onion. By the time the onion is translucent, the stems will be cooked through, then you can add your kale leaves to cook through. Perhaps with a little white wine and anchovy.
Pickle. The fridge pickle is such an amazing thing. You can pickle just about anything and kale stems are no exception. Its just a matter of pouring a hot pickling liquid over the stems, leaving it in the fridge for a day and then dicing it and adding it to salads. My general ratio for a pickling liquid is 1 part vinegar to 1 part water or wine, a heaping spoon of honey and whatever random herbs or spices I have sitting around. Having pickled kale stems in your fridge is exactly what you need to be a good home cook - random ingredients that can augment a salad or a piece of fish.
Skewers. I don't actually have a lot of experience with this preparation because I like the other two options so much. But I don't see why you couldn't use kale stems as skewers on the grill for meatballs, shrimp, figs or any other grillable/skewerable item. Its an eco friendly and fun way to provide a passed appetizer. A good char will make the stem edible, but guests can also just discard the more woody stems that will inevitably surface.
Chef & activist Daniel Klein and cameragirl Mirra Fine are road-tripping around the United States, filming and editing The Perennial Plate -- an online weekly documentary series dedicated to socially responsible and adventurous eating -- as they go. See below for Perennial Plate's recipes, shared weekly with food52 from the road!