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Improving Kale—A Surprising Winter Vegetable Saute

(post, Deborah Madison)

I confess that I’m not a huge kale fan even though I know that I should be.  I faithfully buy it every week, feed a leaf to my Zebra finches each day who pick at it with enthusiasm, and end up using the rest in a soup. But last night I solved my kale problem by cooking a “refrigerator” dish, which means, putting together what you see in the fridge and thus avoiding a trip to town in the snow.
A friend of mine said of her own blog, that “it’s not one of those ‘what I made for dinner last night’ blogs”, which embarrassed me greatly and made me ask if I had actually done that?  (Yes, I have.) Her disdain for what I’m about to do has stayed with me, so maybe I should apologize in advance for telling you what I made for dinner, but when I surprise myself with a successful dish that’s good enough to repeat, I do plan to repeat this, I like to share it.

So here it is: A Surprising Winter Vegetables Sauté consisting of onion, radicchio, Brussels sprouts and the kale, plus 1 piece of bacon for the Southern husband, but this can be omitted if you don’t eat meat. (Smoked paprika stirred into the onions contributes some of the smoky flavor that bacon does.)  I stripped the kale off its stems and tore it into big pieces, sliced the Brussels sprouts thinly and the radicchio more thickly, then chopped a half a red onion (which could be another color) diced into small, but not tiny pieces.  The one strip of bacon got snipped with a pair of scissors into 6 or 7 pieces. Then, I cooked the onion with the bacon in olive oil for over medium heat while I blanched both the Brussels sprouts and the kale in salted water until they were pretty tender, but neither soft nor mushy.  Once the onions had softened, I added the radicchio, a few pinches of salt, and once it wilted in went the remaining vegetables. I gave them a toss, admired the beautiful shades of shiny reds and greens, then seasoned them with salt and pepper.  While they mingled in the pot, I browned some leftover risotto in a pan until its little bottom was gold and crispy. The risotto went on the plate, the vegetables over that, aged red wine vinegar went on the table for the Southerner.  We poured the wine and didn’t even mind the snow falling down outside.

How good was this?  Consider that I always give my husband any good leftovers to take with him to his studio, but when I noticed these vegetables didn’t go to town today, I was secretly pleased. I’m thinking what a good lunch they’ll make. But then he called to say the impending storm was such that he’d be coming home early today. And besides, there weren’t there some vegetables leftover from last night? 
Even better, I’ve got more kale, tons of Brussels sprouts because I bought an entire stalk of them last week, and even a last head of radicchio from the farmers market, so I plan to give it another go.