Someone I know really hates kale. Passionately. Problem is, I can't remember who it is. So after I write this, there's a good chance the kale hater in my life won't see this. And will continue hating kale.
Which will be a pity. Because kale is great. And versatile.
Kale gets a bad rap. It is a member of the brassica family, which includes cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, some of the more polarizing vegetables on the plate. Kale is extremely sturdy and does better in cooler climates, so in areas like New England is it available long after the last broccoli has yellowed and the tomato plants have been pulled out of the ground. It holds up well in coolers and can be stored for long periods of time.
But then there's the issue of flavor. When raw, kale tastes like cabbage. Rough, tough, woody cabbage with the subtle stink of sulfur. Think boiled eggs and hot springs.
Cooked, however, Kale becomes an elegant vehicle for flavor. Think of certain pasta shapes and their ability to carry sauce. Kale, with its curls and twists, similarly holds sauce.
A zillion years ago, when I was an intern at a country French restaurant in Boston, one of my tasks was cleaning ridiculous amounts of kale, cooking the life out of it, and then adding to a decadent cream sauce that was loaded with cheese (not quite sure which one, it may have been Parmigiano-Reggiano). The kale was the vehicle for the sauce. A virtuous vehicle for hundreds and hundreds of calories.
Once kale has been beaten by boiling, roasting, frying, or sauteing until limp, it no longer has the profoundly 'off' flavor that so many find disagreeable. It can then be used in any number of other dishes, hidden in meatloaf (if that's how you roll), incorporated into stuffings, tucked into pockets and baked or fried, rolled into rice wrappers with other fillings, pureed and served with the herbs or spices or fats of your choosing - you can do anything with it that you would cooked spinach or chard.
So what did I do with it? After I removed the rib from the leaves (a must - that rib is woody!), I plunged the kale into boiling water. I don't usually boil my veg, but kale needs to be tamed. After a few minutes it softened considerably. I removed the kale, ran it under cold water, and set it aside. I finely chopped some of it and threw it into a pasta sauce.
The rest I chopped coarsely. I heated up just a little butter, threw in some garlic, finely chopped capers, a little bit of Aleppo pepper (a little hot, a lot of flavor). Then I tossed in the kale and heated it through, threw in some salt and pepper, and then squeezed a bit of fresh lemon juice on it (just at the end...you'll turn your greens army green a little too fast if you add it early). I added a little stock to it as well - I like how rich it tastes with the greens. Once I plated it, I garnished it with a local goat cheese (Ada's Honor from Carlisle Farmstead cheese) and just a touch more Aleppo pepper.
Since I was eating alone that night, I ate as much of it as I could. And the rest I gave to the dogs - Lula and Spike - who ate every last bit of it. Lula is a picky eater. I know that if she ate it, it couldn't have been that bad.