Tuscan Kale Tickles This Kentuckian

 Sautéed Tuscan Kale

Sautéed Tuscan Kale

Five facts about greens and me:

  1. My childhood tactic for forcing down a required bite of hated greens: bury the greens inside a tasty, small, crisp corn muffin and try to swallow all without chewing. Not recommended.
  2. I'm still queasy about greens.
  3. Last year our household included a dedicated greens eater. Every day, usually more than once a day, she washed dark leafy greens, put them on a plate, and ate them with other raw veggies and a little bit of dressing. She survived. In fact, she stayed in remarkably good spirits and good health.
  4. Mustard greens still seem like hide-in-a-corn-muffin food to me.
  5. Tuscan kale is the biggest exception yet to my approach-avoidance with greens. Tuscan kale is leafing its way onto my preferred foods list.

My live-in gardener has recently begun cultivating Tuscan kale through three of Kentucky's seasons, all but the hot summer months. Still, given the paltry late season harvests of everything except purple jalapeño peppers from our small urban garden plots, last Saturday's healthy harvest of baby Tuscan Kale surprised me, inspiring Grits and Greens for Monday's Cornbread Supper (you're invited.)

This kale, also called black kale, dinosaur kale, and cavolo nero, lacks the bitter taste of other greens. Its tender texture, especially when young, offers just enough "bite" without being tough or stringy. Young Tuscan kale can be cooked in a flash in a little olive oil in a cast iron skillet -- picking up more iron in the process, if one needs that element.

The recent cooler nights make this a good season for grits-n-greens for dinner. Use Weisenberger stone ground grits and Tuscan kale. If you start the grits as you begin chopping the onion, and if you wash the greens while the onion "sweats" and the grits barely bubble along, you can put dinner on the table in 45 minutes. (See more detail here.)

The stirring, the good smells, the gradually thickening grits will calm your heart, head and hands after the day's demands. Ideally some other people will wander into the kitchen for company and help, and they will take turns stirring grits, washing greens, or setting the table.

That's life's sweetness paying a call. No corn muffin greens burial needed.

And a postscript: If you want your greens punched up a bit with flavorful Blue Moon garlic, and you have cornmeal in the house instead of grits, see Polenta with Garlicky Greens.

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The world is coming to visit central Kentucky this year for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. To help our visitors know more about Kentucky's food and food ways, Savoring Kentucky is rolling out 116 Savory Kentucky Bites, one for each of the 100 days before WEG begins, and 16 for the days during WEG, September 25 - October 10. Today's Savory Bite is number 106.

116 World EQ Game Postrona