I’m still reminiscing about my summer travels. This week, I’ve got another simple recipe inspired by my time in Provence.
It was really surprising for me not to find glorious vegetable-focused dishes in Provençal restaurants. After all, Provence is predominantly an agricultural area, with the most vibrant farmers markets and road-side stands. The fruits and vegetables were gorgeous, picked at their peak of perfection. Yet, for the most part, they were nowhere to be seen in the restaurants.
After a few days of mildly complaining to my husband about how much I wanted a giant green salad and asking him why there were so few salads on restaurant menus, I came to a simple conclusion: the French enjoy their vegetables at home, prepared in a homestyle sort of way. When they dine out, they expect meat and heartier fare. I came to accept this generalization and enjoyed plenty of delicious poultry and game meat for dinner, typically served with potatoes and some sort of herb-laden sauce alongside. Desserts were often fruit-based, but I rarely had room to have a sweet treat after dinner. The meals were just too heavy. This pattern of eating is so different from how I normally feed myself and my family. Once I accepted this style of eating, I began to feel better, but I still craved vegetables!
When I returned home, all I wanted to eat were vegetables. Lots and lots of fresh greens, zucchini and summer squash - basically anything (other than bell peppers, since I’m allergic) that comes from my weekly One Straw Farm CSA share. I wanted to introduce some of the flavors that were found all over Provence into my local greens - the aromas of fresh lemons, the brininess of the olives, the crunch of the seeds and nuts. This recipe for Warm Kale Ribbons is an easy take on a braised greens dish that combines fresh kale with pantry items (olives, walnuts, extra-virgin olive oil). It comes together quickly and is a nice change from the typical raw kale salad.
I’ve been enjoying Warm Kale Ribbons frequently, they’re a delicious addition to the dinner menu. I can’t get enough of the salt-cured Moroccan olives, they are so pungent and add the right amount of punch alongside the walnuts. Take note and taste the finished dish before adding any sea salt - you may not need any additional salt, depending on the freshness of your olives!
How does your pattern of eating change when you travel? What are your favorite meals to enjoy when you’re away from home? And what do you miss eating when you’re not in your own kitchen? Tell me!
Wishing you a relaxing weekend, full of delicious food, health & wellness.
P.S. if you’re looking for some additional kale recipes, take a look at my recent article here!
Warm Kale Ribbons
Ingredients: (note - use organic whenever possible)
1 bunch Lacinato kale (also called Tuscan or Dino kale)
1/4 C raw walnuts
1/4 C dried Moroccan black olives (pitted)
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Rinse kale under cool water, pat dry to remove as much moisture as possible. Divide the bunch in half. Stack the leaves into a pile on a cutting board and slice crosswise into 1/2”-thick pieces (ribbons). Repeat with the remaining kale.
Chop the walnuts into small pieces. Chop the olives by running a knife through them on a cutting board, leaving them chunky and not too smooth. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the extra-virgin olive oil. Pour the kale pieces into the hot skillet - be careful - if there’s any water on the kale, it will splash in the hot oil. Toss the kale in the hot oil and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the kale begins to wilt. Remove from the skillet to a serving bowl or platter.
Sprinkle the chopped walnuts and olives over the top of the hot kale. Allow the kale to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving, to let the ribbons absorb some of the flavors and aromas of the toppings.
Just prior to serving, cut the lemon in half and squeeze to release the juice over the top of the kale. Season, to taste, with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve kale warm or at room temperature.
recipe yields 3-4 servings
recipe doubles easily; leftovers keep for 2-3 days in a covered container in the refrigerator
substitute another green, such as Swiss Chard or Collard Greens, if desired
omit the olives and replace with sun-dried tomatoes for a different flavor