At any given time I have Kale in my fridge. I gobble it up in salads, crunch on it in chips, put it in soups, or eat it on it’s own braised in tomato sauce. What I have discovered about toddlers is that they will eat anything if it’s cooked in tomato sauce and then chopped so fine they can’t tell it’s there. You can then put it on pasta, shells would be my choice so that the little cups that the pasta form can scoop up all the saucy goodness and provide a vehicle for the green.

This time, I served it with some fennel sausages and cubed up yams tossed with salt, pepper and olive oil- both roasted in the oven. The sweetness of the yam really complimented the kale and tomato and the sausage added a savory meaty element.

You can store Kale for a surprisingly long time in the fridge if you put it in an airtight bag with a damp paper towel inside. Just leaving the leaves in the crisper bin will render them flaccid and putting just the stems in water (flower vase style) never works. The leaves themselves need the moisture too so a large tupperware works too but takes up a lot of room in the fridge.

Braising implies cooking something tough slowly in liquid. When it comes to meat, you would do it with more exercised cuts like shoulders and legs, in which you would sear first and then finish in the liquid. Braising works great with a hearty green like Tuscan Kale because it breaks down the fibers and intensifies the sweetness.

*As far as which tomato product to use- (I can go on forever about this) I’ve been trying to stay away from canned tomatoes Cirio Passata Rusticabecause of the BPA in the cans. Of course sometimes you can’t avoid it. Try different brands to see which ones you like. Whole tomatoes in their juice are usually the best option because you aren’t getting an amalgamation of substandard pieces. That being said, I’ve been using a brand lately called Cirio Passata Rustica which comes in a glass jar. They taste really good to me. Passata Rustica means a coarse pass through a food mill on the tomatoes, so you are getting just the chunky pulp without the fiber or skins and sometimes seeds. Pomi tomatoes in the box are generally good. You generally want to stay away from any kind of tomato puree because it’s actually just reconstituted tomato paste. . What I look for is taste- nice and sweet, without too much salt, which many brands tend to have. Aside from the can issue, La Valle D.O.P. tomatoes are very good- they are of a certain Italian classification that needs to meet specific standards to pass.  After all that, there is even variation among a brand itself. You could be happy using one brand for a while and then all of a sudden it stops tasting good for a while. That’s what happens- it is, after all, a plant, a crop, and sometimes the crop isn’t as good. Sometimes you need to change for a while, or forever.

Kale Braised in Tomato

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 white or red onion sliced thin

6 small cloves of garlic or 3-4 large, peeled and smashed

2 bay leaves, fresh or dried (but fresh is so so much better!)

1 1/2 bunch Kale (because I ate the other half bunch raw-couldn’t help myself)

about 24 oz of tomato product*(see note)- more or less this amount is okay

salt and pepper

  1. In a medium sized saucepan or a high, straight sided saute pan with a lid, place the cold oil, bay leaf, garlic  and onion and begin to heat slowly. The idea is for this to cook slowly so that the onions gently release their juices and become sweet. We are not looking to completely caramelize them (so you don’t want much color) just to make them translucent, soft and buttery.

 2. When the onions are there, add the kale and mix briefly to coat. Cook about 2 minutes to wilt, then add tomato. Stir and cover.

3. Bring to boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until kale is tender, about 40 minutes.

4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. You can adjust the consistency of the sauce by leaving the lid off and simmering if it is too soupy.

5. After it’s finished I’ll cool it down a bit and then chop fine on a cutting board, small batches at a time.

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