Addictive Kale Bites
July 30, 2014 § 1 Comment
Kale bites are comfort food in our family. First introduced to me by a friend, I have been making them almost weekly for the past few years. My friend’s version was heavier on the cheese–she suggested using parmesan, swiss, or even cottage cheese. I am not a big cheese fan and discovered that nonfat Greek yogurt was a delicious addition, with parmesan cheese used as an accent. Her version was also baked in cupcake tins, hence the name kale “bites.”
Funny, but I must have had a premonition that I would be eating large quantities of this dish, as I never even attempted to limit myself to cupcake size “bites.” Instead, I have always made the dish in a pan or casserole, allowing, I suppose, for indiscriminate gluttony. Nevertheless, “kale bites” has stuck. The name, like the dish, just sounds and tastes so comforting!
This recipe has become “green-clusive” as I add any and all greens that I have on hand, often including any combination of collards, spinach, bok choy, arugula, swiss chard, tatsoi, spicy mustard, radish and turnip greens. I always include at least one bunch of kale, which is still in my opinion the star of the show.
Lisa’s younger sister, Jenn, used to say that the dish was so good that there must be crack in it. I too love how it tastes and how densely packed it is with super healthy greens. Also, the summer CSA pick-ups can get overwhelming with all the greens and veggies; it is so satisfying to get the greens out of the refrigerator and cook them down into a more manageable size. I kind of get my own version of a high out of it.
I asked my friend Elaine, my Italian food mentor and talented wordsmith, to describe her kale bites experience. She replied, “Creamy and savory come to mind. Also a piquant flavor, rather complex but good mouth feel.” My first reaction to hearing this was to wonder what “piquant” meant. When I checked out the definition, I learned it meant: “Agreeably pungent or sharp in taste or flavor; pleasantly biting or tart.”
I thought she nailed it!
Addictive Kale Bites
I usually make a double batch as it freezes very well, and is so addicting that is disappears fast!
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced (or sliced garlic scapes if you are lucky enough to have them on hand)
2-3 tablespoons tomato paste (you can also use tomato puree, or sliced tomatoes)
A few healthy shakes of salt, pepper, and cumin
1/2 cup water (or more)
2-3 bunches of kale (or other greens such as, spinach, bok choy, arugula, chard, tatsoi, spicy mustard, radish or turnip greens), tough inner stems removed, roughly chopped
4 large eggs
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (or more if you prefer it more cheesy)
1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 cup oatmeal or whole wheat panko (or a combination of both)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 8×8 inch baking dish (or a muffin tin for true kale bites).
- Heat olive oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat.
- Add onion and garlic and saute until lightly brown.
- Add tomato paste, spices, and 1/4 cup of the water.
- Gradually add the greens, stirring frequently, and adding more water as necessary to keep the mixture from getting too dry.
- Cook until greens begin to wilt, being careful not to overcook them.
- Scoop up batches of the greens with a slotted spoon, and press down on the greens with a wooden spoon to release the liquid into a bowl or liquid measuring cup. Reserve the liquid for a future use as a rich and healthy vegetable broth (works great in pesto or hummus).
- Once drained, place the greens into the bowl of a food processor.
- Blend the greens to a rough chop, not a full puree, and transfer to a large bowl. If there is a lot of liquid in the bottom of the bowl, carefully pour it out, adding it to the reserved vegetable broth. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- In a food processor, blend the eggs, cheese, yogurt, and oatmeal/panko combination until thoroughly mixed. Transfer the egg mixture into the bowl with the cooked greens and mix well.
- Pour the mixture into the greased baking dish and bake for 30 minutes, or muffin tin and check after 15 minutes.