Monday, August 17, 2009

All things green and leafy

At school I was the kid who had hummus and carrot sticks instead of BBQ shapes, unsweetened muesli biscuits instead of Tim Tams and cottage cheese with mung-bean sprouts instead of, well, I don’t think there’s a junk food equivalent to that.

Even now, though I have a full-time job, live by myself and cook for myself most nights, every now and then I still catch my mother nodding encouragingly as I eat salad, exclaiming “Oh, delicious veggies, yummy healthy veggies” while my dad chimes in how eating healthy food makes your eyes sparkle – and who doesn’t want sparkly eyes!?

So, needless to say, I have been successfully brainwashed into healthy eating, so much so that when August at the market keeps presenting me with enormous bunches of dark green leafy kale, I can’t help but buy it and grin to myself knowing how sparkly my eyes will be when I’m done eating it.

I absolutely adore bitter dark green cabbage type veggies and when I read about Molly from Orangette serving them on garlicky toast with a fried egg on top, I couldn’t resist. So, this week as I walked home with a huge bunch of cavolo nero poking out of my back-pack I knew exactly how I wanted to cook it.

It’s really barely a recipe and, once again I must apologise for lack of photos. This time not for lack of trying but just because it was a very ugly dinner – ugly and delicious!

Oh, and don’t be put off by the fact that it’s boiled rather than briefly sautéed like greens are usually served – cavolo nero can stand up to and even benefits from a bit of boiling.

Cavolo Nero and Googy Eggs

1 big bunch of kale, trimmed, chopped into approx 1cm ribbons and washed well*

1 medium onion finely chopped

1 big clove garlic (or 2 little)chopped

Pinch chilli powder or flakes

1 litre of veg stock (I used homemade and I think it’s probably a good idea to use homemade or really super good stock because it flavours the kale)

2 free range egg

4 slices bread

Olive Oil


Grana padano

Gently fry off the onion in some olive oil, once it’s translucent but not brown, add the garlic and chilli and cook for a minute or two.

Throw in the kale and cook, giving it a good stir until it’s a bit wilted. It will seem like a lot of kale to handle in the beginning but it’ll shrink pretty quickly.

Pour in the stock so the kale is just covered, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer – cook until the kale is nice and soft, but not disintegrating into green mush – probably about 30 mins. When it’s a couple of minutes off being done add salt to taste – it’ll need a fair whack of salt, so don’t be shy!

While you’re waiting for the kale to cook, toast 2 pieces of bread per person, while still hot rub them with a cut clove of garlic and brush on some olive oil. Also, fry the eggs as you usually like eggs (in butter or oil, sunny side up or down) just make sure the yolk stays nice and googy.

Place the toast in a wide shallow bowl and when the kale is ready pile it, along with some of the juicy, kaley, oniony stock onto the toast and top with the fried egg.

Grate some Grana Padano (or equivalent) over the whole mess and enjoy sparkly eyes for at least the next 48 hours.

Serves 2 – or one hungry person plus left over boiled kale

*Once the kale is chopped and washed, if you dry it well you can pop it in the freezer where it will happily live for a week or so and come out ready to be popped straight in the pan!


  1. sounds YUM!!

    what's your recipe for vege stock?

  2. Thanks Ad! Is yum.. but it seems that the kale season is now already over :(

    My recipe for veggie stock is very changeable, just depends on what sad looking soft vegies I have in the bottom of the fridge (I hate to admit.)

    The only staples are onion, celery, bay leaves and pepper - otherwise, I've made it with kale stalks, carrot, sweet potato, parsnips, turnips, cabbage - anything really.

  3. I thought I should add in my variation to this recipe which stemmed from not having good vege stock.

    I used only a little bit of stock and to add to the flavour added a "middle eastern" twist by adding cumin, paprika and preserved lemons to the kale. A very different flavour from yours, but delish!

  4. That sounds awesome Thee - will have to give it a shot some time. It'd probably be good then served on a rice pilaf or something, with pinenuts and raisins rather than toast.