Kale & Green Garlic with Cheesy Polenta

Going into this month, I knew it was going to be nuts. I had a baby shower to throw, the Montavilla farmer’s market Grand Opening to plan and attend, a wedding to coordinate, and my own wedding anniversary to celebrate.

All of these are incredibly wonderful things. I’m going to be an aunt for the second time! A dear friend got married to a man who makes her so very happy. The farmer’s market that I volunteer for opened for another great season. And last, but certainly not least, I get to celebrate being married to my best friend for two years. I’m a lucky lady.

But all of these wonderful things do require a bit of time and energy, and somehow I never seem to have much of either. In the midst of all of this, I’m working full time, attempting to write a food blog, and am desperately trying not to kill my garden. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. But when life hands you crazy, just whip up some kale and polenta. That’s what I always say. OK, if I’m being honest, I’ve never said that before in my entire life. But, the moral of the story is this: when you have an incredibly busy schedule and you have kale growing like weeds in your garden, you should take a few minutes out of your busy schedule and make a delicious and satisfying kale dinner.

So that is precisely what I did. I picked a big bunch of Red Russian Kale from my garden, and quickly sautéed it with bacon, green garlic, onion, and lemon. I whipped up a quick batch of polenta, stirred in some freshly grated parmesan cheese, and proceeded to eat a large bowl of cheesy-bacony-polenta-and-kale goodness. The meal was so satisfying, flavorful, and comforting. And, it took all of 15 minutes to cook!

In the midst of all the craziness, I took the time to sit down to dinner with my husband, enjoyed a glass of wine, and allowed myself to breathe. It was just what I needed.

I know I’m not the only one out there who struggles with being over-committed and busy. Its the world we live in. I’m sure many of us are are in the same boat – scratching our heads, pouring over our calendars and wondering how we managed to book up the whole summer before it even started. Life has a funny way of quickly spiraling out of control. It happens. So, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the complexities of life, I challenge you to slow down. Take the time to sit down to dinner; to enjoy a meal with friends or family. Everything else can wait.

And, of course, if you’re in need of a little inspiration I do declare that this is the perfect meal to make when you’re pressed for time. Its so good, in fact, that I’ve already made it twice this week!

Kale & Green Garlic with Cheesy Polenta
Serves 4

1 large bunch of Red Russian Kale (or other green, such as Chard), washed, de-stemmed, and roughly chopped.
4 strips of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch strips
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 heads of green garlic*, minced
The juice of 1/2 a lemon
Red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper to taste

*Note: Green garlic can be found at farmer’s markets at this time of year. It is much milder than regular garlic, so it isn’t overpowering. If you can’t find green garlic, substitute 1-2 cloves of regular garlic.

Method:
Heat large pan or skillet over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add bacon pieces. Cook until fat has rendered and bacon has begun to crisp. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on a paper towel.

Return pan (with bacon fat) back to the stove. If you have really fatty bacon, you may need to pour off some of the fat (You want about 1 Tablespoon of bacon grease left in the pan). Cook onions and diced green garlic in the bacon fat until tender, about 3-4 minutes. At this point, add in kale and squeeze lemon juice over the whole pan. Cover, turn down to medium-low, and allow kale to cook and steam for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally, checking to make sure everything is cooking evenly. Once the kale has fully wilted (8-10 minutes), add bacon back into the pan. Squeeze a bit more lemon juice over the mixture, and season with salt, pepper, and red chili flakes.

Remove from heat, and serve kale and green garlic mixture over cheesy polenta.

For the polenta:
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
Healthy amount of freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup polenta (or corn grits)
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Combine water, salt, and pepper in a small saucepan. Bring water to a boil. Once water is boiling, pour polenta in a steady stream into the water, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to whisk. Stir until polenta is thickened, but creamy (8-10 minutes). Remove from heat. Stir in cheese and butter, mix until incorporated. Taste, add salt and pepper if needed (Note: I like my polenta to be quite peppery.)

5 Responses

  1. Chef Dennis says:

    what a wonderfully flavorful dish! I have to admit I have not seen green garlic, I must look for it! your cheesy polenta looks so very very good, what a nice contrast with that lovely kale!

  2. Love dishes that come together like this! Kale and polenta- killer combo that is so satisfying. Perfect weeknight dinner.

  3. Love this combo…and the green garlic! That’s a good idea to grow your own kale. Have fun with all your activities this month :-)

  4. [...] itself. The stuff grows like weeds. Try as I might, I just cannot keep up with it. I’ve eaten kale with cheesy polenta. I’ve eaten kale in a raw kale and apple salad. I’ve thrown kale on a pizza. I’ve [...]

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