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 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 five minutes count on these nights, especially if those five minutes mean the difference between sitting down with the kids for a few minutes or not.
Anyway, when we all enjoyed this meal last week, I commented that we eat this so often yet I have not typed up the recipe. 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 it when the egg yolk mixes in with the greens, making a flavorful sauce of sorts. A grating of fresh Parmesan or Manchego are my favorite ways to finish this off, but cheddar or your own favorite cheese — or no cheese — work well, too.
These ingredients can be had 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 not to refrigerate onions, I often prep them in advance and store the chopped onions in a leftover deli bag in the fridge. They always taste fine. While I am on the “breaking the rules” subject, I will confess that I wash mushrooms, too. Conventional wisdom says, don’t do it. But sometimes mushrooms are really dirty. Before cooking, I plunge them in a bowl of water, remove the dirt, and then remove to my cutting board and chop. I don’t do this part in advance, however; once wet, I cook them right away and the texture is terrific. I think the key is not to soak them for long.
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!
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.
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 large bunch kale (the curly variety works well here)
- Olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped or sliced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped, optional
- 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, 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.