This is a lot nicer than it sounds, particularly if you have bad memories of the cabbage family from your schooldays. And I think it's probably good enough to be a winter substitute for salsa verde, which we use a lot during the summer. At least, it would be if I could only get the kale to grow.
I know what I did wrong, I put the seedlings in the ground far too late for them to make any significant growth before winter set in. So they sat there, not growing and looking exactly the same as when I planted them, for the whole winter. Except for the moment, in early January, when Lucius let the chickens out, and they made a beeline for the kale and stripped it bare of such leaves as they had. I chased them away, and they haven't been back to that particular part of the garden, which goes to show that Buff Orpingtons are cleverer than you might imagine. I'm slightly mystified that the kale isn't growing at the moment, because you can practically see the grass getting higher, and there are weeds sprouting up all over the place.
This morning I went out to pick the leaves. Nothing at all on the green kale (signs of something eating it - cabbage white caterpillars ALREADY??), but quite a lot of the black. I wasn't really following a recipe, but I did have a look at a couple of books this morning, and the one that was still open on the worktop said you needed 400g of leaves to make enough for six as a starter. So I weighed mine: 35g. That's it - the plants have been there all winter, and there's not enough to make a starter for one person!
But what leaves: soft enough to eat raw, and I did just that. So I cooked about 25g in a lot of water, which turned the most beautiful greeny purply colour, and which I have saved, although I don't know what I'm going to do with it (use it as the stock for more nettle soup, perhaps). I meant to put a whole clove of garlic in too, but I forgot. I put the kale, a finely chopped very small shallot and a few capers into a jug with a slug of olive oil, and whizzed it with my Braun wand.
As this is part of an on-going experiment, I used it on three different types of base, each spread with a blob of 0% Greek yoghurt. Delicious. I think I like the toast cup best.
As for the books which inspired me, Sarah Raven's Great Vegetable Plot has something similar, only with gherkins, olives, parsley, mascapone and crostini (and only using a knife, far too much like hard work!). I looked in the River Cafe books under kale, found nothing, rather puzzlingly, and only later realised that it was indexed under cavalo nero, with no quarter given for the English reader. Hey ho.
And this is my final entry for this month's Heart of the Matter event, hosted by Ilva at Lucullian Delights.
Redgrave and Lopham Fen through the seasons - In late April we visited Redgrave and Lopham Fen on the border of Suffolk and Norfolk, it was Spring – the leaves were fresh and bright green, the reeds ...
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