A “busy night” dinner that’s hearty, healthy, colorful and super satisfying. Easy to customize based on preference and what you have on hand.
There are lots of “busy night” dinners that I pull together often but have not shared in this space. Why, you may ask?
Well, because they are the busy nights, when I am doing what so many of you are doing, too: trying to finish work, fold laundry, get the kids to and from their activities. (Of course, even if the kids do the same activities, their age groups always seem to practice at different times…you likely know what I mean!)
On these nights, I don’t take the time to get the camera out and snap a picture of our dinner plates. Every minute counts on these nights, especially if the found time means the difference between sitting at the table with the kids for a few minutes or not.
When we enjoyed this meal last week, I commented that we eat it so often yet I hadn’t typed up the recipe and shared it here. My kids said I really should. I make special note of this because sautéed kale may not be what you expect kids to love.
Yet somehow, my kids — one of whom tends to be a little picky — love it. For them, I often serve with a side of toast. I like how the egg yolk mixes with the greens, making a flavorful sauce of sorts. A grating of fresh Parmesan or Manchego are my favorite ways to finish off the easy dish, but cheddar, feta, or your own favorite cheese (or no cheese) work well too.
Conveniently, these ingredients can be easily kept on hand and prepped in advance. If I know the night will be busy, I try to wash and chop the veggies ahead of time. Even though the general rule is to not refrigerate onions, I often chop them in advance and store them in a bag in the fridge. They always taste fine.
While I’m on the “breaking the rules” subject, I will confess that I also wash mushrooms. Conventional wisdom says, don’t do it. But sometimes mushrooms are really dirty. Before cooking, I plunge them in a bowl of water, gently rubbing away any dirt, and then give them a quick rinse and pat dry before chopping. The key is to not soak them.
I don’t do this part in advance, however. Once washed, I cook the mushrooms right away and the texture is terrific. Because mushrooms have so much moisture anyway, the key to success is cooking them long enough to release that moisture. This concentrates the mushrooms’ natural umami and allows them to become denser and meatier.
Sautéing the mushrooms long enough to cook out the mixture and render them golden brown creates a meaty texture and lots of satisfying flavor. For those who aren’t a fan, simply omit and cook the onions until nicely caramelized. Or substitute bell peppers or white beans–I like to sear those long enough to develop a golden crust.
For moms who think their kids may never eat kale, try starting with Kale Chips. Years ago, this crisp rendition seemed to present kale to my kids in a positive light. So, when they ate it in different ways, they were open to it. I’m not promising anything, but it may be worth a try!
Kale and Eggs
Prep Time:5 minutes
Cook Time:15 minutes
Total Time:20 minutes
While I love the flavor the garlic adds and adore the meatiness of the mushrooms, I mark these as optional. When pressed for time, I simply sauté the onion, wilt the kale, and top with the eggs. Sprinkle with cheese, if desired.
A large bunch of kale will serve four people. Top with one or two eggs per person, depending on appetite, and serve as is or with a side of toast or crusty bread.
8 ounces mushrooms, optional, quartered or halved if small (I like baby bellas or crimini; button work well, too.)
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1-2 eggs per person, according to appetite, cooked over easy or sunny side up
Garnish: Freshly grated Parmesan, Manchego, cheddar, crumbled feta, or your favorite cheese
Wash the kale and remove the tough stems. Then slice crosswise into thick slices. I usually cut the long slices in half. (I shake the leaves dry but leave some water clinging to them rather than spinning dry. The wet leaves cook more easily. Also, you may prep the kale to this point, and then store in a plastic bag in the fridge until ready to use.)
In a large, oiled skillet (I use my 12-inch cast iron skillet), sauté the onion over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until beginning to soften. Add the mushrooms, and cook for 5-7 minutes more, stirring occasionally, or until the mushrooms are golden brown. If your skillet becomes dry, add a drizzle of olive oil.
Add the garlic, stir, and season with a little salt and pepper.
In batches, add the kale, tossing gently to rotate the top layer down. As the kale wilts, add more until you have added it all to the pan. Again, if the skillet gets dry, add a bit of oil. (With a seasoned cast iron skillet, I don’t need more than 2-3 tablespoons beyond the initial light oiling of the pan.) At this point, turn the heat down to low and season again with a little salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat as soon as the kale is wilted. (If there are a few pieces that still look crisp, that is good. I think greens gets a little stringy when cooked too long.)
While the kale is finishing, cook the number of eggs desired to your liking. I usually do over-easy or sunny side up, but choose your favorite method.
Spoon kale onto plates, top with egg(s), and a grating of your favorite cheese. Serve with a side of toast or crusty bread, if desired.
I like to keep the yolks runny so they serve as a sauce to the greens. If you or your kids don’t like runny yolks, you could certainly top the kale with scrambled eggs.