Sunday, June 21, 2015

Kale-cheese bread; or, taming the green-leafed monster

This is me, cowering behind this week's allotment of kale.
I do not like kale, cooked or raw.
I do not like to have to gnaw
On greens so tough you need a saw
To cut them, or they break your jaw.
I would not like them here or there,
I would not like them anywhere.

But I don't like to throw things out, either. It occurred to me that bread can improve almost anything, and cheese can improve it still more. So I tried this experiment.

  • Make a filling of cooked chopped kale, cheese, egg, onion, and garlic.
  • Make dough for French bread.
  • Spread the filling on the dough, roll lengthwise, and bake.
  • Cool before slicing.


1. Fix the kale. I washed mine, removed the hard stems, chopped the leaves into smaller pieces, and simmered it, uncovered, in water. When most of the cooking liquid had cooked down and the kale was soft enough to eat, I drained the remaining liquid, stirred in maybe half a cup of my awesome leftover garlic scape pesto for flavor, and spun the greens in the food processor until they were finely chopped, though not yet a paste.

(There are lots of ways to prepare kale. You could also sauté it in olive oil with onion and garlic, adding liquid and simmering it for awhile if the sauté alone doesn't get it soft enough. Different kinds of kale respond to different treatment. Just cook your kale one way or another until it's edible, if not tasty.)

2. Make the filling. Grate about 6 oz of cheese: Cheddar, Gruyère, Emmenthaler, Comté, Manchego ... take your pick. Stir it, plus one beaten egg, into the kale slurry (or give the mixture a short whirl in your food processor). Set aside.

3. Make bread dough. Easiest way in the world: Put 1 lb white bread flour, 2 tsp salt, and 1 1/2 tsp rapid-rise yeast in the food processor. Spin for 5 seconds. While it's still spinning, pour 1 1/3 C warm water into the tube with a little hole in it, so it is added in a small steady stream. Spin for 30 more seconds. Pour a little olive oil into a medium-sized mixing bowl and use your hands to slosh it up the sides. Put the bread dough in it, turning it several times so it's covered with oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a dish towel and put it in a warm place for 2 hours or more to rise. (Tasty variation: instead of using 1 lb flour, use 14 oz flour and 2 oz corn meal or polenta.)

4. Shape the dough into a rectangle. Sprinkle a little flour on your countertop and work the dough into approximately this shape. (The dough in the picture is approximately 12" by 15".) If the dough is too elastic to shape, wait another 15 minutes and try again.

5. Spread the filling on the dough. Leave a 1" border all around.

6. Roll the dough and filling lengthwise. Seal the ends and bottom by pinching the dough together. Now you have a nice loaf, ready to bake. Put it on a cookie sheet or in a French bread pan. Let it rise for an hour.

7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Squirt water into the oven. Put the bread in. Squirt more water. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

Uh oh. Why did the filling leak out the sides? Why does the bread feel fragile? Is this going to be a grand disaster? Will it fall apart when I slice it? Will the bread get soggy? Will I have to throw it out and sneak in to the potluck and pretend I brought something? 

8. Relax. Let the bread cool. Wrap it in aluminum foil and refrigerate it overnight.

9. Slice and serve.

Now then, that wasn't so bad, was it?
In fact, I took this bread to the church potluck, and even avowed kale-haters said they loved it. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I will try this, though probably with a different "flour", due to diabetes.
I would really love to even like kale.