Sometimes you don’t have the time for the long, slow cooking that a lot of the comfort food we crave around this time of year needs, but we still want something that fits that bill anyway. Well, I know I do. And all the ingredients that are at their best this time all point that way as well. Kale, in all its guises, (Dino, cavolo nero, curly to name just a few) is one such ingredient. It will stand up to a bit more robust cooking than a lot of other leafy greens, but can be cooked more quickly and goes together perfectly with beans, lentils or mushrooms to produce a perfect autumn supper. Kale is one of our oldest types of cabbage, and people have been cultivating it, and eating it for thousands of years. With good reason too; it is not only packed full of vitamins, including K, C and A, but is also high in fibre and rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It has more iron in than beef per calorie, and more calcium in than milk, per calorie. And, of course, is full of those anti- cancer anti-oxidants, in particular carotenoids and flavonoids, that I am always raving about. And that’s not including the stalk, which most people don’t use. It can be very tough, but I like to chop it up finely for this recipe and sauté it with the onions to make sure no fibre is left behind.
I have adapted this recipe from the Riverford recipe book; it does work perfectly well as it stands, so feel free to stick to the original. But that’s not my strong point and I always end up tweaking things, especially when I have other ingredients lying about, waiting to be used. And isn’t that the point of a hash anyway? To blend everything together in one pan until you have a delicious mass that you can call a meal simply by putting a poached egg on top? Mind you, I do think that the addition of a poached egg to a lot of food elevates its status from substantial snack to feast, so maybe I’m not the best judge.
A word of warning though, the recipe uses chorizo, which, although delicious, is an ingredient that I do try to limit due to the nitrites used to cure it with. Some people will assure you that the jury is either still out on the link between nitrites used in the meat curing process and certain cancers, and some will even tell you that it is patently not true, but for me, I’ll stick with keeping them to an absolute minimum. I try to think of it in the same way you would a herb or spice, purely there to enhance the flavour, not as the main player in a dish. A good way around this is to use a good tablespoon or so of paprika, smoked if you can get it or to buy nitrite free chorizo, which isn’t as readily available as it should be. Obviously substituting bacon or any other cured meats will leave you at the mercy of the same food additives, but if you aren’t following a vegetarian diet, you could also chuck in a couple of anchovies at the onion softening stage to add a bit of salty depth as well.
Kale and Mushroom Hash Recipe.
Serves 6 (2 adults, 4 children)
3 cloves of garlic
A good tablespoon or so of fresh thyme
125g chorizo (the original calls for more)
400g tin of white beans. Cannellini, flageolet or even butter beans would all be good here.
300g mixed mushrooms
500g potatoes. I use my leftover roast or boiled potatoes here. If you don’t have any leftovers, you can dice them (about 3 cm prices) and boil them ready to use.
500g kale, leaves stripped of the stalks. Stalks chopped and leaves shredded.
Start by crushing your garlic and leave to one side for the allicin to develop.
Dice the onion and put in large, heavy based pan with a large splash of olive oil, with the kale stalks, to soften for at least ten minutes.
Blanche the kale leaves for one minute in boiling water, then drain and refresh in cold water.
Add the roughly chopped chorizo (if you using it) to the pan and turn the heat up for a minute or so to get the fat cooking out of it. Or add your paprika.
Next chuck your mushrooms, thyme and garlic into the pan, followed by your potatoes. Allow the potatoes to brown a bit, then throw in the beans.
Add the kale leaves and carry on cooking until they are warmed through.
Serve topped with a poached egg. Quick, simple, delicious and filling; an ideal combination.