Tus­can flavours of olives and beans make this salad a treat

The Hamilton Spectator - - FOOD - MELISSA D’ARA­BIAN

News flash: kale is still in.

It’s still one of the nu­tri­tional high­lights in my crisper drawer, and win­ter is its peak sea­son, which means it’s most abun­dant, healthy and cheap right now.

Kale, part of the same fam­ily as broccoli, is loaded with vi­ta­mins (par­tic­u­larly A, C and K) as well as smaller quan­ti­ties of pro­tein, fiber and an im­pres­sive ar­ray of min­er­als. Plus, a cup of kale has fewer than 35 calo­ries, and a bunch of or­ganic kale will set you back prob­a­bly a lit­tle over a dol­lar right now. So, you’re go­ing to need some up­dated kale recipes to get your through the win­ter.

The two va­ri­eties most avail­able in the su­per­mar­kets are curly kale and the darker, flat-leafed ver­sion that is called Tus­can, la­cinato or di­nosaur kale. Tus­can kale is thicker and heartier than the curly va­ri­ety, so it holds up nicely in sautées.

Both kale va­ri­eties are slightly bit­ter in flavour and do well to be “mas­saged” in acid, like lemon juice, which si­mul­ta­ne­ously tames the bit­ter­ness and gen­tly breaks down the kale cells, mak­ing the leaf more ten­der in raw or light­ly­cooked ap­pli­ca­tions.

This recipe is a sauté star­ring Tus­can kale. I like to think of it as a warm salad with leaves made slightly more ten­der by a lemon juice mas­sage and a quick sauté.

The main flavours are per­fectly Mediter­ranean: an­chovy paste and olives for salti­ness (you can cut the quan­ti­ties down if you are watch­ing sodium), lemon zest for bright­ness, and gar­lic, which is a heart-healthy sta­ple of the re­gion.

Small grape toma­toes add sweet­ness and acid, while a hand­ful of black beans boost the al­ready-fi­brerich kale, turn­ing this into a side dish that means you re­ally can serve way less meat for the main.

Or, dou­ble the recipe and skip the meat al­to­gether, which makes the dish ex­tra healthy and wal­let-friendly.

Tus­can Kale with Olives and Beans MAKES 4 SERV­INGS

1 bunch Tus­can, or la­cinato kale, re­moved from thick stem, about 12 large leaves 2 ta­ble­spoons lemon juice, plus ex­tra lemon juice for serv­ing, if de­sired 2 tea­spoons ex­tra vir­gin olive oil 1 clove gar­lic, minced 2 tsp an­chovy paste 2 tsp lemon zest Pinch red pep­per flakes (op­tional) 2 tbsp chopped or sliced olives ½ cup grape toma­toes, halved ½ cup cooked white beans, drained and rinsed if canned 2 tbsp shred­ded Parme­san cheese, for serv­ing Lemon wedges, for serv­ing (op­tional)

Start to fin­ish: 15 min­utes

Thor­oughly wash the kale leaves (no need to dry), and slice into strips. Place in a medium bowl and pour lemon juice on top of the leaves. Use your hands to mas­sage the lemon juice into the leaves, coat­ing well. Let sit for a few min­utes while you pre­pare the rest of the ingredients. Heat large skil­let over medium heat.

In a small bowl, mix to­gether the olive oil, gar­lic, an­chovy paste, lemon zest and red pep­per flakes. Scrape the oil mix­ture into the pan and sauté un­til fra­grant, stir­ring with a wooden spoon, about one minute. Add the olives and kale leaves, stir and then cover with a lid and al­low to steam for two min­utes. Un­cover and stir in the tomato halves and beans. Turn off the heat and top with Parme­san cheese.

Serve with lemon wedges for squeez­ing.

Per serv­ing: 105 calo­ries (39 from fat); 4 grams fat (1 g sat­u­rated; 0 g trans fats); 3 mil­ligrams choles­terol; 269 mg sodium; 12 g car­bo­hy­drate; 3 g fi­bre; 1 g sugar; 5 g pro­tein.

MELISSA D’ARA­BIAN, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Win­ter is peak sea­son for kale, when it’s abun­dant and easy on the wal­let.

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