Kale, Butternut Squash, and Pancetta Pie

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (1-lb) piece butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (3 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped 4 (1/8-inch-thick) slices pancetta* (Italian unsmoked cured bacon; 3 1/2 oz), finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 1/2 lb kale, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped (16 cups)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 (17- by 12-inch) phyllo sheets, thawed if frozen
  • 1 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup)

Special equipment: a 9-inch round heavy nonstick springform pan

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté squash with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, stirring frequently, until browned and just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and spread in 1 layer to cool.

Add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet and reduce heat to moderate, then cook onion, pancetta, garlic, sage, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in kale and water and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until kale is just tender, about 6 minutes. (Skillet will be full, but volume will reduce as vegetables steam.) Cool, uncovered, to room temperature.

Brush springform pan with some of butter. Unroll phyllo and cover stack with plastic wrap and a dampened kitchen towel. Keeping remaining phyllo covered and, working quickly, gently fit 1 sheet into pan with ends overhanging and brush with butter (including overhang). Rotate pan slightly and top with another sheet (sheets should not align) and brush in same manner. Repeat with 5 more sheets, rotating pan each time so sheets cover entire rim.

Spread half of kale mixture in phyllo shell. Gently stir together squash and cheese in a bowl and spread evenly over kale. Top with remaining kale.

Put remaining sheet of phyllo on a work surface and brush with butter. Fold in half crosswise and butter again. Fold again (to quarter) and brush with butter, then lay over center of filling. Bring edges of phyllo up over filling (over quartered sheet of phyllo) to enclose. Brush top with butter and bake until deep golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool pie in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Remove side of pan and transfer to a platter. Cut into wedges (leave bottom of pan under pie).

Cooks' note: Pie can be baked 2 hours ahead and left in pan, uncovered. Reheat in a preheated 350°F oven.

*Available at specialty foods shops and many supermarkets.

Kale and Chickpea Soup

  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large boiling potato(3/4 lb), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 lb kale, stems and center ribs cut out and discarded, then leaves very finely chopped in a food processor (4 cups)
  • 3 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (28 fl oz)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (14-oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 lb Spanish chorizo (cured spiced pork sausage), casing discarded and sausage cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)

Cook onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt, and pepper in oil in a wide 4- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until onion and garlic are softened and beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add potato, kale, broth, and water and cook, partially covered, until potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Reduce heat to low, then add chickpeas and chorizo and gently simmer, uncovered, 3 minutes. Discard bay leaf and season with salt and pepper.

Gourmet, November 2004

Kale and Mushrooms with Creamy Polenta

  • 1 1/4 pounds kale, stemmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups polenta
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces pancetta (Italian bacon) or bacon, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces mushrooms (such as crimini, oyster, and stemmed shiitake), sliced
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cook kale in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 6 minutes. Drain.

Bring milk, water, polenta, salt, and pepper to boil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thick, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, cook pancetta in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels. Add mushrooms and 2 tablespoons oil to drippings in skillet. Saute until mushrooms are tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in kale and pancetta. Add garlic and broth; simmer until broth is slightly reduced, about 6 minutes. Stir in thyme, lemon peel, and 2 tablespoons oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Whisk butter and Parmesan into polenta and divide among plates. Top with kale mixture.

Bon Appetit
February 2006
Michael Lomonaco

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