We were extremely happy with the other two dishes we'd made from the "Greens Guide" in Fine Cooking's June issue -- the Rainbow Chard with Pine Nuts, Parmesan, and Basil and the Quick-Sautéed Collard Ribbons. Both of those were unique, delicious ways to cook some of the early-summer greens that'd been piling up in our fridge.
But we were most excited about this Tuscan Kale with Shallots and Crisp Salami. Why? Well, obviously because of the salami. We loved the thought of adding a salty cured meat to kale, and the idea of cooking it a little to make it crispy. As longtime Bitten Word readers know, we think just about any dish can be improved by adding meat (although we're still tweaking our recipe for Rib-eye Chocolate Chip Cookies).
Anyway, in short, Fine Cooking had us at "crisp salami."
Turns out, though, we actually may have liked this even better without the meat.
When we've made kale in the past, we'd simply strip the leaves and sauté them in a little oil. It's a fine way to prepare them, but it's nothing to write home about.
This recipe includes a really smart innovation: Boiling the kale for a bit, then letting it dry while the steam and moisture escapes, and then sautéing it quickly, just to get it back up to heat. As a result, the kale is less heavy and soggy, and it mixes better with the flavors of whatever else you toss into it at the last minute.
And in this case, those last-minute toss-ins are simple and incredibly tasty. The honey-vinegar gives the shallots and great flavor that's lightly sweet-and-sour. And the sautéed shallots are savory and delicious.
But, as much as we hate to steer you, dear readers, away from meat, we just found the salami to be a little superfluous. Yes, it crisped up very nicely. And, sure, it tasted okay. But we found that it just weighed the greens down more than we wanted.
All in all, we found this dish delicious. We'll definitely be repeating the boiling-sitting-sauteing method when we cook kale in the future. And the honey-vinegar glaze was just right.
But, yeah, we decided we preferred this kale without the meat. (Yes, we're just as perplexed as you are.)
2 tsp. honey
1 tsp. sherry vinegar
14 oz. Tuscan kale (also called cavolo nero, black, dinosaur, and Lacinato kale)
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 large or 4 small shallots (about 4 oz.), sliced into thin rings
2 oz. thinly sliced Genoa salami, cut into thin strips (1/8 to 1/4 inch wide)
1 Tbs. unsalted butter, well softened
In a small bowl, whisk the honey and vinegar. Set aside.
Fill a 5- to 6-quart pot about three-quarters full with water. Add 1 Tbs. salt and bring to a boil over high heat.
To trim the kale, grab each stem with one hand and rip the two leafy sides away from it with the other hand. Discard the stems. Rip the leaves into 3 or 4 pieces. Add the kale to the boiling water and cook until just tender, 4 to 7 minutes. Drain and spread it out on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a clean dishtowel to steam and release excess moisture, 10 to 15 minutes.
In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot rings and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the shallots to a plate. Increase the heat to medium high, add the salami strips and cook, stirring and breaking them up into smaller bits, until crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer the salami to a plate.
Add the kale to the pan and toss with the fat until the kale is just heated through (do not cook it for long or it will begin to weep moisture). Off the heat, add the honey mixture and toss well. Add the reserved shallots and the butter and toss until the butter is melted. Season to taste with salt. Transfer the kale to a serving platter. Garnish with the salami. Serve immediately.