Had a great class last night about cooking kale–how to blanch it in salt water to remove the harshness and make it more tender. Then we used it in a well-received dish: Kale Pizza with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto and Sauteed Pears. At the end, however, someone asked if he should always blanch kale before using it. It seems he just sautes it, without first blanching, then tops it with lots of toasted sesame oil and sesame seeds.
That inquiry gave me another lesson in good answers and better answers to cooking questions.
In last week’s fresh cilantro example, I learned that the technically correct answer to a cooking question isn’t an absolute. On the continuum of possible cooking options, the technically correct answer may hold the “Best” position, but there are a lot of “Good” to “Better” options to the left of it that could produce perfectly satisfactory results.
In response to the kale question, I gave the technically correct answer: For tough characters like kale, blanching holds the “Best Cooking Technique” position because it has such a good success rate. But it would have been better if I had also shared two additional, key tenets for home cooks:
1. Do what works and what you can. If sauteing kale is something that you are comfortable doing, that you can do easily, that you actually do–and that produces food you like–then don’t ever give it up as long as it is healthful.
2. Accumulate, don’t replace. New techniques aren’t meant to replace current techniques that work. Instead, think of a new technique as just one more trick up your sleeve. So the next time you’re staring at a bunch of kale on the counter, hallelujah! You now have one more delicious way to fix it–a really good thing since kale is so power-packed and it’s in season in all winter long.
So happy kale eating and please leave a comment if you’d like a copy of the wonderful recipe we made: Kale Pizza with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto and Sauteed Pears.
By the way, I am going to experiment using the pizza topping with pasta (whole grain of course.) Maybe with extra olive oil and chicken or vegetable broth for a little sauciness. I’ll also revisit kale sauteing and see if I can come up with an even better answer for next time.