Spicy Tuscan Kale

I’ve been reading Ruth Reichl’s My Kitchen Year, and it’s quite moving: when Gourmet suddenly shut down, Reichl had to deal not only with the guilt she felt when this beloved food magazine closed on her watch, and with what to do with her life now that this major part of it has ended. Feeling a little adrift this summer myself, I’ve been inspired to make some of her recipes, starting with this kale side.


[Her recipe serves 8, so size down as needed! I cut it by 1/3 and fed 4 as a side salad.]

  • 3 large bunches of lacinato kale (about 3 pounds)
  • salt
  • 2 large onions (chopped into a casual dice)
  • olive oil
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • chile flakes
  • pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves (smashed)
  • 1/4 lb grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (see recipe below)
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Wash your kale, then strip the leaves off the ribs. (She finds this easiest to do with her fingers, in one long, smooth stripping motion– I agree!) Tear the leaves into large pieces.
  3. Cook the kale pieces in the pot of boiling salted water for a minute or so; the kale should stay vibrant green.
  4. Drain it and run it under cold water until it’s cool enough to comfortably hold in your hands, then squeeze out as much water as you can and set the kale aside.
  5. Heat a healthy splash (1-2 tbsps) in a large skillet. Throw in the anchovies and worry them with a wooden spoon until they’ve completely disintegrated. [I removed the anchovy backbone before this step; the other tiny bones will melt away.]
  6. Add the onions, a few pinches of chile flakes, a few grinds of pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes, until everything is soft and fragrant.
  7. Toss in the kale, along with the garlic, and cook for another 10 minutes or so, until it’s all come together in a lovely green mass.
  8. Taste for salt, add a bit more olive oil if you like, and stir in the Parmesan cheese and the crisp bread crumbs for texture.

Homemade Bread Crumbs

  • one loaf stale French, sourdough, or Italian bread
  • olive oil
  • salt
  1. Cut bread into cubes and grind it into crumbs in a blender or food processor. If your bread is not stale enough to crumb, you can dry the cubes in a 200 F oven for about 15 minutes before grinding.
  2. Spread the crumbs on a baking sheet and toast in a 350 F oven for about 20 minutes until they are crisp and golden. Drizzle with olive oil (about 1/4 cup for every 2 cups of crumbs), season with salt, and allow to cool completely before putting into containers.

[These will keep in the freezer almost indefinitely. Just stick the crumbs in the microwave for a few seconds to take the chill off before using.]


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