In Basically on a Budget, we’ll talk tips, ingredients, and recipes that’ll help you save money and eat well.
Fire is hot, rain is wet, and kale cooks down to nothingness. I come home with a huge, leafy bunch of kale and the ENTIRE bag gets consumed in one meal, leaving tomorrow veggie-less. So recently I’ve been trying to get more bang for my buck in the greens department. All you windowsill scallion farmers know what I’m talking about. The challenge: I had two bunches of curly kale to last one week. How would I use it to make it go further?
The first bunch I washed and separated into stems and leaves. I tossed the leaves in olive oil and salt and baked them ‘til crispy, then stirred the kale chips into a pound of cooked pasta (as Heidi Swanson does with soba noodles in this recipe.) The crunchy greens disintegrated so that every bite had crispy crunchies, sort of like when you add breadcrumbs. But this was healthier? Sure.
The next day, I chopped the stems into inch-sized pieces, fried them in olive oil, and sprinkled with my favorite default seasoning, the Spice House’s garlic salt. I had no idea what I was going to do with them. I stood in the kitchen and ate a small bowl of fried kale stems. That’s what I did. Later that day, I added them to a scrambled egg burrito. Is…this…innovation?
Bunch two: I cut the kale into ribbons and make a simplified version of Basically’s just-keeps-getting better lentil salad. I mean VERY simplified. The dressing was garlic, oil, and lemon juice, the salad was lentils and kale. In place of feta I used cheddar, in place of fancy green olives I used air. It was DELICIOUS. The kale is massaged so it softens, but otherwise remains raw and therefore goes far. The next day I added a hard-boiled egg to the salad. The day after that: strips of one salami round. It’s true! It just kept getting better.
Then I ran out of ideas for how to stretch greens, so I crowd-sourced with my test kitchen buddies:
Hear me out: Herb jam
Andy Baraghani said to make herb jam, specifically, his recipe for herb jam. It’s a bunch of greens combined with chiles, ginger, spices, and whatever herbs you have around the house. Then, because the jam is so concentrated, you only use a spoonful here, a spoonful there. By combining it on toast with ricotta or in a bowl with cottage cheese, it’ll go even further.
Regarding other greens, he added: “Spinach is useless. Just buy frozen spinach.” Extremely noted, Andy!
Blanch and stash
Christina Chaey has a whole process where she blanches her greens, wrings the water out, squeezes them into balls, and freezes them. Then she takes a nest of greens out when she needs to add them to her weeknight steam-fests or quick soups.
Both Chaey and I separate the stems and leaves (for kale, chard, collards, broccoli) so each can be treated as its own part. Toss a few kale stems into your fried grains, or omelets, or at unsuspecting passersby.