Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kale with Garlicky White Beans

My mom clipped this recipe for me a few months ago. She got it from The News Tribune.

1 lb. dried white beans, soaked overnight* (I used great northern beans)
1 small onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 bay leaves
Thyme (4 sprigs fresh, or 3-4 teaspoons dried; I used dried, because it's what I had on hand.)
Coarse salt
Garlic (about 16 cloves)
Kale (1 bunch)
Olive oil (3 tablespoons or so)
1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
Sriracha (optional)

After soaking the beans overnight, put them in a stock pot along with the soaking liquid. Add enough water to cover the beans by 3 inches. Put the onion, carrots, bay leaves, thyme, and most of the garlic cloves into the pot. Reserve 4 cloves of garlic for use later in the recipe. Bring the contents of the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium or medium-low; you want the liquid to be bubbling just a tiny bit. Cover the pot and let it continue to cook until the beans are tender. This should take 1-2 hours. Once the beans are tender, add about a teaspoon of salt and let everything cook for a few more minutes. Drain the bean mixture, reserving about 4 cups of the cooking liquid. Compost the bay leaves.

Remove the center rib from each kale leaf (save the ribs!). Tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Chop the ribs into small, thin slices. Thinly slice the reserved 4 cloves of garlic, too. Heat the olive oil in a huge skillet. If you don't have a huge skillet, I suggest a stock pot or a dutch oven. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add the garlic slices. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Don't allow the garlic to burn. Then add the chopped kale stems. Cook for another 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the stems are tender. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for another 30 seconds or so. (Make sure the flakes don't burn.) Then add the kale leaves in batches, tossing each batch to coat it with oil and let it wilt before adding more. When all the kale is wilted, reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the skillet and cook for about 10 minutes--until the kale leaves are tender. Add spoonfuls of the cooking liquid from the beans as needed if the kale mixture seems to be drying out. (I probably ended up adding about 1/3 c. of liquid over the course of 10 minutes.) When the kale is tender, add the drained bean mixture and 3 cups of the cooking liquid. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Cover the skillet again and cook for a few minutes to let the flavors mingle.

Steve and I ate our servings drizzled with Sriracha.

* When soaking the beans, make sure to cover them with plenty of water. They will absorb water and expand during the soaking process, and you want to make sure that they remain covered with water the whole time.

We had this as our main dish tonight, and let me just say this: Wow. It was so spectacularly not worth the effort. Steve and I agreed in retrospect that it would've been decent as a side dish, but it just didn't cut it as the lead. And even as a side dish, it wasn't exceptional. The cooking process was fairly time-consuming, and I wouldn't go to that trouble again for something mediocre.

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