Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Kale and Polenta Stew
This morning is overcast. Normally, this is not an unusual observation in Seattle, but after the most glorious end-of-summer and start-of-fall we have had, ever, I am noticing. The warm sunshine, blue sky and crisp evenings have been such a gift. Now that rain appears imminent and the air turning chilly, thoughts are emerging of a warming bowl of stew and getting cozy around a fire.
I can’t resist a bowl of grains and greens. In fact, I will choose this over a bowl of beef stew (much to my family’s wonder). Given my love of kale, I frequently sauté a bunch or two with garlic and a little spice to enjoy as a side dish, or top it with a fried egg for a quick supper. Sometimes I may toss in leftover brown rice, too. In my opinion, grains and greens pair wonderfully.
With this in mind, I began thinking about a hearty stew. I always enjoy a bowl of comforting polenta, and stirring in my quick supper of kale, onions, garlic and chiles seemed a natural fit. For some protein, I added chickpeas. I’ve been inspired by Emmy (she writes a lovely blog with daily recipes I guarantee you’ll want to eat!) to cook a pot of chickpeas more often. This means I have a stash of these cute little legumes in the fridge or freezer ready to pop into a soup or salad, or to roast for snacking. I also save the cooking liquid to use wherever broth is called for, making it ideal for preparing the polenta for this stew.
The change in weather is eased by a bowl of Kale and Polenta stew, with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar adding the final touch. Frankly, I need more time to read, too - I’m in the midst of Wicked in anticipation of seeing the show here next month, and am having a hard time putting Japanese Farm Food down. I’m happy to come inside.
Kale and Polenta Stew
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 large carrot, sliced thinly
8 ounces (roughly 2 bunches) kale, stems removed and leaves chopped (I use Lacinato)
Crushed red chile pepper to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
7 cups chickpea cooking broth or vegetable stock
1 cup polenta
2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (drain and rinse if using canned)
Balsamic vinegar to drizzle
In a large soup pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and carrots and stir to coat. Let cook until the veggies soften, about 5-6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and a few shakes of crushed red chile peppers. Add the chopped kale and toss for 2-3 minutes, until it begins to soften.
Pour in the broth or stock, increase the heat and bring to a boil. Slowly add the polenta, stirring the whole time to keep it smooth. Lower the heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes. It should be like a thick soup. Stir in the chickpeas and taste for seasoning.
Ladle into bowls and drizzle a little balsamic vinegar over the top of each before serving.