When I first encountered kale in my organic veg box, I thought eating sea weed was a step too far. It looked exactly like the stuff that used to grow on the shingle above the shore line at Hill Head where I lived as a young teenager. Sea kale (crambe maritima … nice word) is edible and very good for you, as is the cultivated kale in my veg box. It’s odd how most of us discount free food as not worth anything; not worth the time spent harvesting or picking it, let alone taking the time to cook it.
Kale was one of the vegetables on the list of what to grow at home in the Dig for Victory Campaign during WWII, simply because it was easy to grow, outlasted a lot of other leafy vegetables as well as high in nutrients.
Well of course, I’ve paid for this kale so I’m going to have to do something with it and besides it’s been waiting at the bottom of the fridge in a plastic bag for over a week. And as if to prove a point it’s still as crisp and curly and fresh as the day it arrived.
The recipe I’ve chosen comes from one of my old favourite cook books: Josceline Dimbleby’s Marvellous Meals with Mince. Some of the recipes are still quite novel (fish sausages and piglet pie) and on the whole don’t seem to have dated that much which is why a reprint thirty years after the first edition, in these times of austerity is still a good idea. And, after receiving a review copy of the 2012 edition from the publisher, I’m delighted to say that all the original recipes are still there, as is the odd whimsical quote: ‘One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is that we are doing and devote our attention to eating’ Pavarotti. Quite.
The presentation of recipes and photography feels contemporary and it’s more of a book now than a booklet but the format is perfect for sitting on the worktop without taking up precious work space. I’ll be experimenting with more of these recipes, however, my absolute favourite, is still Far Eastern Pie.
250g beef mince, 15g butter, 1 rounded tsp paprika, 1 tbsp plain flour, 300ml tomato juice, finely grated orange zest and juice, pinch of chilli powder, 2 large eggs, 40g blanched almonds.
Remove the stems from the kale, blanche in pan of boiled water, about 30 seconds, drain well. Melt butter in a large pan, add mince. Cook untill brown, use a spatula to break up the meat. Remove from heat and add paprika and flour. Gradually mix in tomato juice and return to heat to thicken, about 3 minutes.
Back in January I stocked up with a couple of bags of organic Seville oranges from Riverford, and put them in the freezer. I can’t tell you how it lifts my heart to get one of these frozen globes of sunshine out of the freezer and scrape the zest, whilst still frozen into a cook pot. It’s sharper and more zestier than a dessert orange.
Preheat oven, 200C, gas 6. Butter an ovenproof dish and add layers of kale and mince, starting with mince. Beat the eggs, add almonds and pour over the top. Bake for 25 minutes. This dish would go well with mashed potatoes or pasta. The kale makes a robust chewy layer, so removing the stalks before cooking is really important. Overall verdict: 8/10