Kale is one of those ingredients that people do seem to love or hate. The haters might have tried kale once and thought it chewy or bitter or just better left as rabbit food. The lovers throw it in everything and anything – smoothies, pestoes, salads, stir-fries and soups. I’m somewhere in the middle with kale; still finding my way with it. Even though it looks a bit like silverbeet, I wouldn’t use it interchangeably.
I’m a daggy lady who loves writing lists of ‘Great things to do with X’ to jog my memory on occasions when faced with a lot of something, such as when a vegetable is coming on in the garden or when we are getting a run of something in the produces boxes we get each week. My kale list is still infantile, but this pan-fried salad with garlic, beans and breadcrumbs is the certain star of it.
Unlike silverbeet, which would collapse and become juicy, the kale becomes deliciously coated in the flavoursome garlicky oil and a little bit crispy at the same time. I added tiny broad beans in spring, which were totally amazing, and I’ve also made it with fresh borlotti beans. Instead you can make it with cooked dried beans or beans from a tin.
The recipe is an adaption of a Portuguese recipe from Food Safari called migas, which uses black-eyed beans and pine nuts. ‘Migas’ means crumbs in Spanish and it seems that there are many variations of the dish, breadcrumbs the constant.
The last time I made this salad I also added artichokes because it was the middle of spring and I was feeling all spring-y. This is optional. You can eat this dish as a side dish or just by the beautiful, healthy and delicious bowlful.
Kale, bean and breadcrumb salad
3 tablespoons olive oil
1–2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bunch of kale (either cavolo nero or curly kale), leaves stripped from their central ribs from about halfway down, finely shredded
500 g broad beans or fresh borlotti beans, podded (or cooked dried beans, or beans from a tin)
the hearts of 4 artichokes, prepared, cooked and quartered (optional)
large handful of fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add the garlic, frying until lightly golden. Add the kale and continue to fry, stirring regularly, for several minutes. Add the beans and continue to fry and stir for another 5 minutes, or until the beans are just tender. Add the artichoke hearts if using, along with the breadcrumbs, salt and a good grinding of pepper and continue cooking for a few minutes, stirring constantly now so the mixture doesn’t stick too much to the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and add a squeeze of lemon juice to taste, and extra salt if needed. (If some breadcrumbs have stuck, just leave the salad to sit in the pan for a few minutes and the steam generated will lift them off.)
Serves 4 as a side dish