Whoa, where did this day go?! I guess I got a little distracted by that amazing 49ers game (and black bean hummus, and good beer). That’s kind of how this whole week has felt, actually. I cooked this lovely little side dish on Thursday (I think?) and I’m just now sitting down to tell you about it. So let’s cut right to the chase.
We’re in kale season, and as my friend said the other day, “chicks love kale”. While I agree, I’m willing to bet guys love it just as much (even if they aren’t as ready to admit it). Kale is one of those things that I think is impossible to dislike. If you don’t like kale, you just haven’t had it prepared the right way. 🙂 So whether you’re a kale lover, a secret kale lover, or a kale skeptic, this is a wonderfully bright and tasty side dish that marries the milder, sweeter variety of kale – lacinato – with some really delicious flavors.
Let’s be honest, could you ever go wrong with lemon zest, parmesan cheese, and garlic? That’s a trio of awesomeness that will lift any dish from the realm of regularity into that of the heavenly. The cannellini beans add a creamy element that can’t be beat. Throw in some tomato paste and red pepper flakes, and we’re golden. On top of it all this dish is pretty easy. A little prep, one pan, and a rich, hearty side dish is all yours. Or I guess you could share. Just don’t be surprised if you convert some skeptics with this one, or better yet, get a guy to admit they love kale.
Braised Kale & Cannellini Beans
I use chicken stock in this for a richer flavor, but you can use vegetable stock for a vegetarian version.
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans or white kidney beans
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
- 3 to 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 small bunches lacinato kale, stems removed, sliced into about 1 inch strips
- 1 teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- zest of 1/2 a lemon
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- In a large pan over medium heat, melt the butter and cook until it begins to take on a tan color and smell nutty. Add the beans and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften and break up a bit, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for another minute.
- Add about 3 cups of the stock, stir to combine. Then add the kale, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir well. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, until the kale is tender and the liquid has thickened. You may need to add more stock as it cooks.
- When the kale is ready, turn off the heat and check for seasonings (keep in mind that you'll be adding salty parmesan cheese). Add the lemon zest and cheese. To serve, top with extra parmesan cheese.