We picked up kale in our weekly share from the CSA this week. While we like kale, we have trouble finding new ways to use it, and, most times, we end up having it braised and just eating it as a green. It’s not bad, but it does get boring having it the same way each time. And, we get kale enough during the season that we’re always on the lookout for a new idea.
This idea comes, vaguely, very vaguely from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman. We say vaguely because we got the idea of combining kale and wild rice from the title of one of her dishes: Wild Rice Gratin with Kale, Caramelized Onions & Baby Swiss. It sounded like a good match: the strong flavor of kale paired with the strong flavor of wild rice. It probably has nothing else in common, so we’ll claim this as a 99% Scratchin’ It original.
We know, we know, wild rice surely is pricey at the store. We buy it in bulk (5- pound bags) online, and, even then, it runs about $6/pound. Yikes! Good thing five pounds will last us a year or so. Kale, on the other hand, is a bargain. While we don’t get ours at the store, we do see it for sale for about 99¢ a bunch. And, we read, but don’t necessarily believe, that it’s some sort of superfood. As a funny aside, once I looked at something online listing the top N “superfoods.” Almost every one was something I would have just called food as a child: walnuts, blueberries, spinach, etc., etc. Who knew?
Oh, the shiitake mushrooms? They’re full of umami flavor — not a superfood, but something that brings out the flavor in other foods. Use ’em if you got ’em.
Procedure in detail:
Boil rice. Wild rice (technically a seed from a type of grass, but we won’t digress further) takes a while to cook, so let’s get it cooking shall we? Place several cups of water in a large saucepan, about a 3-quart size, and bring it to boil over high heat. Once boiling, add rice, salt, and shiitake mushrooms. Reduce to a simmer and cover. The rice will take about 45 minutes, but the mushrooms will be rehydrated in about a third the time. Remove the mushrooms after about 15 and chop into pieces, discarding the tough stems. Once the rice is starting to split open and is tender, drain thoroughly.
Cook kale. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, toss in the onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Give them a sprinkle of salt and pepper to get the juices flowing and cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. If the garlic looks as though it’s going to burn, you’ve gone too far. Add the kale and cook, stirring often, until wilted and tender, about 7 minutes longer.
Add rice. Add the drained rice and stir to combine. Cook, stirring often, until the rice is heated through. Now add the vinegar and scrape up whatever stuck to the pan. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Stir in pecans. Toss the pecans on top and stir them in. Continue heating for about a minute, so that the pecans can heat through, then serve.
We had our wild rice dish as a main, but we think it would make a good side, too. The wild rice is flavorful enough that it can be difficult to taste the kale — might be a good thing, if you don’t like kale — but it’s there. As we were eating this, we discussed how to make it even better, and we decided that adding a handful of raisins would be nice. Really. If you make this before we do, try adding raisins and let us know if we were right. Four stars.