[15] Wilted Kale with Mushrooms

Cover of The Healthy Kitchen by Rosie Daley and Andrew Weil, M.D.

Thank goodness for days when we can manage to make more than one recipe! This means that, despite our occasional issues with eating dinner at home, we’re not too far below one on the recipes:days ratio. I think 15 recipes in 16 days of challenge is a great start.

It’s really already changing our eating and thinking, I can see. At least mine. I’m much more inclined to try to figure out a way to cook at home these days, already, than to chose to eat out. In addition, I’m much more inclined to find recipes at home that use what I have here at home than to go buy something new.

Unfortunately, that second one isn’t really working out for us as well as I’d like it to. Our CSA this week provided kale (and I just realized I forgot to do a CSA update), but it was not a lot. We found a recipe for kale and mushrooms that sounded delicious, but there’s no way the kale we got equaled even a pound (and the recipe called for two). No matter, I figured I could go get some more to make the recipe, and the plan was to halve the recipe.

If only I’d made a note of that on my list. Instead, I bought a pound and a half of kale (two bunches). With our CSA kale, that’s going to make dinner for about four people (according to the recipe), and there’s only two of us. I see my lunch tomorrow being a kale pasta, just like my dinner tonight. (Bill’s lunch is going to be the leftover Thai we got for dinner late last night, while we were out with the Zipcar.)

I hope it’s tasty! (For once, I’m starting this entry BEFORE I start cooking, though the whole of it will, naturally, be posted after we finish dinner.)

h2. Ingredients

3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil

1 c sliced mushrooms (We used criminies.)

3 tbsp veggie stock or water (We used homemade chicken stock.)

2lbs kale, ribbed (Should yield ~12 cups of leaves.)

Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Optional garnish of goat cheese (yes!) or sesame seeds (no).

h2. Instructions

Sauté the garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until it becomes soft, then add the mushrooms and kale and cook for about a minute, stirring occasionally. Pour in the stock or water, and rotate kale leaves until they are thoroughly coated in the juices. When the greenery is bright green and thoroughly wilted, remove from heat and plate. Sprinkle individual servings with 1/2 tbsp of goat cheese or sesame seeds, then salt and pepper to taste and serve.

h2. Cooking and Consumption Notes

h3. Cooking

This is intended as a side-dish, but when we saw the serving suggestion to put it over pasta, Bill and I realized it could be an easy main dish that way. The recipe also originally calls for spinach, but says you can use kale or swiss chard as well. While I considered raiding Erica’s garden pots for her swiss chard to supplement our kale, I quickly discarded that idea with the realization that I can’t take her in a fight, and who wants to go down fighting over chard anyway?

Anyway, if you use chard or spinach, toss it in a little later – with the stock or water. Or so the book says. I don’t think Rosie Daley or Andrew Weil would advocate getting into a fight over greenery, so use what you can get your hands on without getting your ass handed to you by a good friend.

So ends the notes written BEFORE I started cooking.

HOLY CRAP, ROSIE DALEY AND ANDREW WEIL, M.D.! What were you two thinking? I’m convinced that by the time the editor got to this recipe (on pages 239 & 240 of a 321 page book, not counting index, but counting “menu planning”), he or she just got tired and said, “Hey, she’s Oprah’s personal chef1 and he’s a doctor. Surely their recipes are FINE.

Dear Editor,

Please don’t slack off like that. It results in rather confusing recipes that may or may not also taste good.


This recipe was full of crazy! First it calls for some random sauté pan. It doesn’t mention what size or anything else. DO NOT FALL FOR THIS TRICK. You do not want a sauté pan of any size. No, really, you don’t. You want an enormous sauce pan or dutch oven. I took a look at all the kale I’d chopped up (pictures coming soon, I swear), took a look at my three sauté pans and said, “Not a chance.” Then I grabbed my 7 quart dutch oven. I’m glad I did, because I’m 90% sure I didn’t have quite 2lbs of kale (I’d be surprised if my CSA bunch came out to a half-pound), and even after ribbing the kale, I couldn’t fit all of it in the ENORMOUS pan I’d chosen. In case you weren’t sure, 12 cups is a LOT of kale. And if you’re a slacker like me, and just use two bunches that equal 1.5 lbs + CSA kale, it might be even worse (but I doubt it was).

Also, this recipe calls for the tough stems to be removed from spinach, but that the ribs of kale or chard to be coarsely chopped and added to the dish. I could see chard ribs, but not kale ribs. Do as you see fit if you make this dish, but remember they will take a long time to soften.

Finally, note that the instructions imply a bit of speed to having things wilt. That’s true, but it takes a long time with so much kale, and a lot longer for it to get reasonably soft. Plan accordingly.

h3. Consumption

Bill and I had fairly differing opinions on this one. He thought it was reasonably tasty, didn’t need the pasta, and even had seconds. I was glad I’d made the pasta, thought the kale was somewhat tasty, and did not finish mine. Part of that, of course, was the crazy dose of fiber contained in that bowl (we also used a pasta made to have extra fiber – Bill’s not a fan so when we use it up it won’t come back into the house, and we’ll stick with basic whole wheat).

The goat cheese greatly helped the flavor, we both agreed. However, we’re pretty sure the measurements were screwed up in there somewhere (please see previous note to editor). The recipe says it serves three, calls for 6 tbsp of goat cheese if you use it as a garnish, but directs you to garnish the individual servings with just 1/2 tbsp of goat cheese each. Clearly, the math does not add up here. Was it 2 tbsp cheese per plate? Was the dish supposed to make 12 servings? Was the writing supposed to call for 1.5 tbsp goat cheese?

Frankly, though this dish made a great deal of food, it’s hard to imagine it serving 12, even as a side dish. Possibly as a side dish with their serving suggestion of it being a “bed” for a fillet of fish, but I’m still pretty unconvinced. I could see six, but not 12.

Also, the garlic and mushroom flavors were dramatically overwhelmed in this dish. I understand that they were not intended to be the stars of the show, but the mushrooms were even given title (though secondary) billing!

I doubt we’ll make this dish again, though it didn’t end up feeding the trash can. If we do make it as a bed for salmon or similar, I’ll probably halve the kale while keeping everything else the same.

Oh, and for the record? Our CSA kale tasted vastly better than the kale we got from Whole Foods. I only wish we’d had more of it.

fn1. I am pretty sure she was at the time, or had just recently ceased to be. As far as I am aware, Rosie Daley is no longer Oprah’s personal chef, though. I don’t know what she’s up to now. Dr. Weil is still making gobs of money being Dr. Weil.