Thursday, February 16, 2012

There's A Vegan In The Kitchen

Kale and Fennel with White Beans

It wasn't that long ago that I didn't know what to do with kale and fennel. They seemed beyond my reach and for some very silly reason they scared me. Fennel? Licorice? In my salad? In my stir-fry? Kale, be it the very dark green kale or the purple kale I used today, well, I was just not familiar with kale.

The vegan journey has made me much more curious, much braver to try these "exotic" vegetables. And I say to you today - "What was I thinking all those years?"

If you are like me, you will find some culinary courage on-line. I went to YouTube this week and watched many cooks chop and cook fennel and kale. It helped. You have to cut out the tough core of the fennel and cut off the tough stem of the kale. You don't eat the fennel stocks but the lacy leafy part makes a nice garnish. 

With a new "If they can do it, I can do it" attitude, I invented this beautiful dish. The licorice flavor of the fennel is lost in the cooking, the toughness of kale is steamed away. The result is a beautiful plate of contrasts in color and texture. The flavors are simpatico.

1 1/2 Tablespoons chopped garlic
1 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped fennel
4 cups chopped kale
salt, pepper
1/2 cup water

Heat olive oil in a large pan, add garlic and fennel and stir until garlic and fennel are soft. Add kale. Gently stir to fold the kale into the olive oil, garlic and fennel mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1/2 cup water, put a lid on the pan and steam for 5 minutes. 

Open a can of white beans in tomato sauce. Heat through.

To serve, put a layer of stir-fry kale and fennel down on the plate.  Spoon the heated beans into the center. Garnish with fennel leaves. Serve.

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