Thursday, August 9, 2012

Crispy Caramelized Grilled Kale

The tastiest way to eat kale.

I'm not a huge fan of making a recipe post for just a side dish, but this one stands out and is too good not to share.  Seriously, every time I make it, I have to make at least double the amount because I will eat one bag of kale myself!

I came up with this recipe out of drunk and laziness.  Normally, I would cook kale on the stove top or in the oven but since I was too lazy to wash dishes and since we were going to be grilling anyway, I decided to throw it on the grill too.  Why not right?  Also while drunk, I tend add way more garlic than intended and grate cheese over everything.  This time the dish turned out well, and is probably now, one of the more desirable side dishes I make.

Cooking the kale on the charcoal grill makes it crispy and charred, and it also gives it that nice subtle smokey taste.  The cheese caramelizes the kale and the garlic.  The large amount of fine olive oil  makes the garlic and kale chewy in the middle.  They say not to cook with fine olive oil, but in this case, it really does contribute to the flavor.  Combined all together, you get a fantastic, addicting kale dish!

A note on Olive Oil:  So my current obsession is with high quality, fresh and cold pressed olive oil and fine salt.  My olive oil palate has developed tremendously after my trip to France and Italy, and now I absolutely cannot cook with shitty olive oil.  And this goes for like 90% of the olive oils sold in the US, including at Whole Foods.  We are so clever with our marketing.  In fact, a lot of the major health benefits of olive oil is lost by the way we manufacture it, not just the taste.  Anyway, since I'm running out of the olive oil I got on my trip, I made a huge effort to find similar quality olive oils nearby since shipping from Europe would be so expensive.  I searched all over south bay for this and I found two shops that sell awesome high quality fresh and cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, both conveniently in Palo Alto.
  1. Vin, Vino Wine.  A wine bar on California Avenue.  They sell mostly wine, and also one brand of olive oil imported from France.  It's a little expensive though but the taste is spectacular.  $40 for one litre, but this is the best olive oil I've found locally.  It has that nice nutty sweet lighter flavor and is very comparable in taste to my favorite bottle of olive oil I got in Italy.
    2. Straight from France, no nutrition facts on the back.
  2. Sigona's Farmers Market.  It's a cute little local market shop in the Stanford Mall.  They have a large selection of fresh pressed olive oil in the back of the store.  They let you sample all the olive oils.  My current favorite is the Arbequina from Chile.  You can also get nice olive oil spouts here.  Apparently, they are also located in Redwood City.

Again on the use of cheese: I follow the Primal diet because I'm a major foodie and I don't want to limit myself too much.  According to Mark's Daily Apple, quality cheese is Primal (Is Cheese Unhealthy?).


  • 1 Bag of pre cut and pre washed Kale (you can get this at Trader Joe's)-- 10oz, or 2 bunches of Lacinato (Dino) Kale, cut into bite sized pieces.
  • 1/2 Tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 10-15 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
  • At least 5 Tbsp of fresh fine olive oil, enough to coat all leaves
  • About a 1.5"x1.5"x 0.5" block of Gouda cheese (or a caramel-y type of cheese).  I used the Parrano Dutch Gouda Uniekaas from Whole Foods to be exact (it's the one that's always on sample)
  1. Gather ingredients.  Prep the grill.  Wash and cut kale up into bite size pieces if needed and pat it super dry (no need if you're using the Trader Joe pre cut and pre washed kale).  Chop up the garlic.  Create a foiled tray to cook kale on the grill.  Make sure the bottom of the tray is layered with at least 3 sheets of foil to prevent oil leaking onto the grill.
    3. Ingredients + 1 extra bag of kale, oops.
    4. Amount of cheese.
  2. Add in the 1/2 Tsp salt, 1/2 Tsp black pepper, and 10-15 cloves of garlic (chopped).
  3. Pour a generous amount of high quality olive oil (>5 Tbsp at least) and mix with your hands.  Try to keep the garlic on the top or in between leaves (not all bunched together at the bottom) to keep it from getting overly burnt.
    5. Mixing kale.
  4. Using a microplane grater or a cheese grater, grate the cheese on top of the kale.  No need to mix, but if you reallyyyyyyyy need to, you can toss it once.  Just make sure the top has most of the cheese.
    6. Grating cheese over kale.
    7. Ready to go on the grill.
  5. On the hot grill, cook the kale for about 30-40 minutes.  For the first 15 minutes or so, cook the kale on the hottest part of the grill.  Toss every 10-15 minutes.
    8. On the grill.

    9. Tossing the kale, about 15 minutes in.
  6. The awesome part of grilling, is while the food is cooking, you have all this spare time to do whatevers.  Hello, muscle ups!  After accumulating about 15 minutes on the hottest part of the grill, you can move the kale off to the side to cook other stuff.
    10. Muscle ups in the meantime.

    11. Steak and kale kind of night.
Let the kale cool for a couple minutes, then serve!  Again, I like to at least double the recipe.  Just use one bag of kale per aluminum foil tray.  This beats kale chips.  The kale also taste really good as leftovers the next day.  I like to eat them as a snack.

12. Crispy caramelized chewy kale, also delicious as leftovers.

After writing this post, I now have a ridiculously strong craving for this kale now.  Looks like I'll be eating steak with crispy caramelized kale and grilled chocolate bananas tonight!!!

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