I’ve been thrilled to find tuscan kale at my farmers’ market every week and I never tire of it or run out of ways to make it. As soon as I get it home, I clean it, blanch it, then figure out what to do with it later.
Hummus with Tuscan Kale
Although hummus is very easy to find at most fine food markets, I always prefer make my own, for the simple reason that most brands of hummus contain raw garlic, which I don’t care for in any recipe. Making hummus is as easy as pressing the button of the food processor–just combine canned chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste), lemon juice, salt and a touch of water, and process to a smooth paste. Add to this a couple of handfuls of cooked tuscan kale, and you have the perfect light(er), green dip to serve with pita chips.
The next two recipes call for Tuscan Kale Pesto. I’ve already gone on about the virtues of this pesto that stays green, can be heated without worry of damaging its delicate flavor, and can be eaten more like a vegetable (think creamed spinach) than a sauce–I use it much more liberally than traditional basil pesto, since it’s much more delicate and less peppery. I made an extra-large batch this weekend, since I was expecting ten guests for dinner. I knew that this would be a treat for them and likely something they’d never tried before.
Farro with Tuscan Kale Pesto
Farro ( a.k.a. emmer, spelt or triticum, depending on whom you ask) is that wonderful, nutty grain that can go almost anywhere that pasta does, but stays firm and can be reheated freely–perfect for a party. I combined the cooked farro with the pesto and some butter and gently heated the two in a large skillet. I had so wonderful much farro left over, I came up with a third dish.
Farro and Tuscan Kale Pesto Fritters
These fritters were very easy for a couple of reasons. First, the farro was already so nicely seasoned from the kale pesto, it needed little other than binder (some eggs, cheese and breadcrumbs). Second, the fritters need not be dredged in flour/egg/breadcrumbs. They can simply be formed into patties and fried with no dredging. The farro itself becomes the brown, crispy and exterior, without the need for an extra layer of breadcrumbs.
Make sure your fritters are well-seasoned with plenty of salt and pepper. You can mix all the ingredients and taste, prior adding the eggs–it should be aggressively salty. Then proceed to add the eggs and fry. Taste the first batch as it comes out of the skillet–it may still need more salt, which is best sprinkled on while the fritters are still sizzling hot from the skillet. You’ll have to stop yourself from doing more than just tasting!
Italian-Ate Hummus with Tuscan Kale
serves 4 as an appetizer
15-oz. can of chick peas
3 tbls tahini
juice of half a lemon
3 tbls water
1/2 tsp salt
1 c tightly packed, pre-boiled (for about 5 minutes) tuscan kale leaves
pita chips, for dipping
In the bowl of a food processor, combine drained chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, salt and water. Process to a smooth paste. Set aside.
Place cooked kale leaves in the processor and pulse to chop coarsely, then add the hummus and continue processing to a coarse paste.
Combine hummus with chopped kale and serve with pita chips.
Farro with Tuscan Kale Pesto
serves 12 with leftovers for making fritters
2 lbs farro
3 batches of tuscan kale pesto (approximately 2 bunches of kale)
6 tbls butter
2 c chicken broth
In a pot of cold water, combine farro with water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil and add a tablespoon of salt. Simmer uncovered for approximately 45 – 50 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In a skillet, combine pesto, butter, kale and half the chicken broth.
Stir over low heat and add more broth as necessary to keep the farro moist. May be made ahead and reheated at the last moment with more broth.
Farro and Tuscan Kale Fritters
approximately 8 – 10 cups cooked Farro with Tuscan Kale Pesto (packed fairly tightly)
1 c grated parmigiano
1 c grated pecorino romano
1/4 c fresh chopped parsley
1/2 tsp nutmeg
7 large eggs
salt and pepper to taste
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except eggs. Taste and add salt and pepper.
Add eggs and blend with hands. Form into patties about 2″ in diameter.
Gently slide into a quarter-inch of hot olive oil. Fry on medium heat until golden on both sides (approximatel 5 minutes per side).
Taste and sprinkle with salt if necessary while they’re still hot.