It’s fair to say that I am not a great fan of kale as a general rule. In discussing greens, I have rated it below mustard greens, turnip greens, collards, and grass clippings. Kale is awful in salads. I certainly have an open mind about foods, however. Kale can be useful in soups, where its flavor and texture are overwhelmed by other ingredients; indeed, I’ve posted a recipe for Chorizo and Kale Soup, which you should try. I often throw in some kale when I make chicken soup.
The highest and best use of kale, however, is napini. You get napini when you let (or someone else lets) a Russian or Siberian kale plant go to seed. The kale plant creates smallish florets, best harvested when they are maybe three inches long. You just snip the florets off. Voila, you have napini. You can compost the rest of the plant.
I was unaware of napini until I saw some recently at a local farmers market. I’d never heard of it, so I bought some. It turns out to have a flavor similar to that of broccoli raab or rapini. That is to say it has a wonderful, somewhat bitter flavor that marries oh so beautifully with pork. Napini also is a great side dish, and it mixes well with pasta. It has all of those vitamins and minerals that prompt people to eat kale, and it’s easy: unlike rapini, it requires no trimming.
Here’s what you do:
Wash two cups of napini. (That’s a quarantine amount.) Let it dry in a colander.
Heat a generous portion of olive oil in a pan.
Sauté, oh, four cloves of garlic, chopped.
Add the napini and cook it for a minute or two, tossing to make sure that each floret cooks evenly.
Serve as a side dish.
You can also toss the napini in with some pasta, and serve as a main course with some grated cheese. Or you can add it to a sandwich with some Italian sausage or roast pork and sharp provolone. I haven’t tried it with barbecue or andouille or Conecuh sausage … yet.
The problem with napini is that it has a very short season. Grab it while you can.
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