Sautéed Kale and Grapes

Small tastes of the warm Kale and Grapes for the cooking class
(photography Julie Farrell) 

 Filling the measuring cup with grapes sliced in half.  One full cup of grapes is perfect
 with one bunch of kale

 Use the largest sauté pan (frying pan) that you have.  You don't want the kale to steam, instead you
want it to be crispy and browned.  Cook the kale completely first and then push the cooked kale to the side and add the grapes.

After the grapes have cooked for a few minutes combine them with the kale and serve.
This dish goes well with almost anything.  I've added pecans and served it over halibut.  
I've often served it as a side dish with roast chicken.  The other day we tried it with beef and 
that was good too.

Notes on the Kale Salad recipe from one of the cooking class students 

Something magical happens when you cook grapes.  This is one of those recipes where someone's eyes light up when they eat the grapes and they say "what did you do to make those grapes taste so amazing!"  The answer is so simple:  heat.  There is not magic ingredient just a the magic trick that happens when you take a cold grape and cook it in a sauté pan:  the sweetness is intensified and the flavor transformed.   

For those of you who have made the now famous Gina Salad (warm grapes, warm bigs, caramelized balsamic onions, goat cheese and marcona almonds over arugula)  you already know how warm fruit tastes like nothing else in a salad or side dish.  And even if that warm fruit cools, it has already undergone a metamorphosis that changes the taste of the original raw fruit.  (just think of any raw ingredient and how it changes once you roast it.)  And I'm not trying to get too carried away on a tangent (as a tend to do) but you can also roast whole grapes in the oven.  Clark Staub from Flatbread roasted entire bunches of grapes in the oven as a side dish for one of his farm to table dinners.  They were amazing.  In fact I'm going to do a separate post on oven roasted grapes but I've made hyperlinks to Clark's recipe here.

Now back to our kale and grapes recipe. While there are a number of type of ale there are two main types of Kale that most people cook with:  Curly Kale or Lacinto Kale.  Curly Kale is the kale you see in most grocery stores and that previously was thought only as a green background garnish until its recent nutritional powerhouse health benefits put it in its own league protecting against cancer as well as being cholesterol-lowering and packed full antioxidants and vitamins.  It is high in Calcium, Iron, Vitamin C, Vitamin A and is high in fiber.  So I'm glad to hear that it is healthy but I'm personally all about taste and I'm addicted to it.  It must have something my body needs, because I literally crave it and eat it at least once a week either cooked or in a kale salad (with lime or lemon juice, feta cheese, carrots and nuts.)

Lacinto Kale is also known by a number of other names (Tuscan Kale, Italian Kale, Dinosaur Kale, Cavolo Nero, or Black Kale)  No matter which name you use it is all the same exact thing.  I'll take a picture the next time I'm at the Farmer's Market so you can see the difference.  And while it seems like the gourmet new stylish think to cook with, it has been in America since the 1770's:  Thomas Jefferson planted it on his farm at Monticello

So which Kale should you use in the recipe?  Whichever one you can easily find.  They both work.  Curly Kale is found everywhere.  Lacinto Kale is found in many farmer's markets and at specialty stores like Whole Foods.  


This recipe is so quick and simple.  Kale keeps well in the refrigerator and so do red grapes.  So it is an to throw together as a last minute side dish for anything from fish to chicken.  

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or olive oil, but grapeseed oil is better for high heat)
1 medium size bunch of kale, chopped into small pieces or slices
1 cup of red grapes, sliced in half
pinch of kosher salt (about an 1/8 teaspoon of salt)

In the largest sauté pan you have, turn the heat to high and put in the grapeseed oil and then the kale.  Sprinkle the kale with kosher salt.  Turn the heat down to medium high and continue to cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the kale begins to brown.

Cook the kale more than you think you need to.  Just go that little bit farther to bring out the nutty and crispy taste of the kale.

When the kale is cooked push it to the side of the pan, turn the heat to high again and add the grapes.  Turn the to medium high and cook the grapes for about 2 minutes.  Add an extra pinch of salt to the grapes if you wish.

Then combine the grapes and kale and serve warm.  


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